The Rev. Jesse Jackson isn't backing off on his blast at Cleveland Cavaliers owner Daniel Gilbert. Jackson, appearing on Fox Sports Radio with Stephen A. Smith, said he stands by likening Gilbert to an angry slave owner, with regard to Gilbert's verbal attack on LeBron James.
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Gilbert never referred to LeBron by name in The Letter; instead, he threw around words like "narcissistic," "cowardly betrayal," "disloyalty," "heartless," and "callous" to describe the "former King."
Gilbert also promised Cleveland a championship before LeBron ever wins his own ring in Miami. He swore that James would be "taking the 'curse' with him down south," bringing "bad karma" to wherever he lives until he does right by Cleveland.
But Jackson said he may be most bothered by Gilbert’s accusation that James quit on the Cavs during the playoffs saying it was an effort to discredit LeBron and to hurt his marketability.
"Then he goes to his ultimate step and says, 'There were five games when you quit.' You know the ultimate sin in athletics is to determine the outcome of the game by quitting . . . Those are very profound accusations and the league must investigate that accusation. On the other hand, if it's not true and I don't think it is true, that's defamation of character."
He also spoke on some of his inspiration for the runaway slave analogy:
"Didn't you read Bill Rhoden's book Forty Million Dollar Slave? . . . The point is that people, whatever price they may be, who can be bought, sold or leased are in that predicament . . . (Players) play hurt, they play injured and they are, in fact, owned by a contract . . . Don't focus on the analogy, focus on the owner saying 'We've covered for you and five specific games you quit.' That's a very heavy allegation and it's illegal, as well as illicit."
Jackson analysis of how wrong Gilbert was to call out James couldn’t be that off the mark. NBA Commissioner David Stern fined the owner $100,000 for the highly incendiary remarks. Remarks that have led to public burnings of LeBron’s Jersey and the removal of his billboard on Ontario Street.
But what’s really behind Gilbert’s anger. By some estimates the value of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise went up $100 million when James was on it. Lebron James himself was worth about 50 million dollars in business for the city of Cleveland. Gilbert is also building a casino near the stadium. So Gilbert wanted to use LeBron’s cache to help pack a casino and the stadium. Serious money that will be very hard to replace.
But Gilbert is not the only owner who’s mad. James joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh—the other top free agents this summer—on the Heat. The signings of the three NBA stars has vaulted Miami into the consensus favorite to win the title next season. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has called for an investigation on how all three players ended up with the same team. Sounds like a lot of hate on three guys that are young and want to win. Why shouldn’t players who sacrifice their bodies and their talents have a say on who they play with and where?
With most of the owners in the NBA white and most of the players Black is race the real issue behind all this rage? Or do the owners feeling threatened by players wielding the ultimate power in controlling their own destinies?