For anyone worried that the LeBron James free agency fiasco would not develop racial angles: Fear not, Jesse Jackson is here.
On Sunday, Jackson criticized Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for seeing James as a “runaway slave.” The reaction comes after Gilbert released a letter and a number of other angry comments when James decided to publicly leave the Cavaliers and sign with the Miami Heat.
Almost immediately after James announced that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach,” Gilbert fired off an open letter to Cleveland fans. In it, the team owner ripped James and guaranteed that the Cavaliers would win a title before Miami. Later, he called the Associated Press (AP) and said in an interview that James’ decision was “cowardly” and that his former player quit on the team in the playoffs.
“He has gotten a free pass,” Gilbert told the AP in a phone interview late Thursday night. “People have covered up for (James) for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is.”
On Sunday, Jackson called Gilbert’s comments “mean, arrogant and presumptuous.”
“He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Jackson said on Sunday. “His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship—between business partners—and LeBron honored his contract.”
Jackson also urged the players’ association to step forward and take action against the owner for the comments.