Put yourself in Gilbert's shoes for a moment. You did everything in your power to put a credible team around your star player. You satiated him by hiring his buddies on team payroll, and skirted all sorts of unwritten rules to accommodate his family and hangers on. The team had the best regular season record for two years straight, but couldn't get over the playoff hump because your star player would rather be Magic than Michael, and your coach wouldn't know the difference between playoff X's and O's and a tic tac toe board. Now, this guy figuratively thumbs his nose at you by holding a two year-long spectacle that culminated with a Lebron-A-Thon™ where he basically said "I'm out!" and went to join a championship starter team in Miami. And oh year, the value of your franchise probably just dropped by 1/3 overnight.
Yeah, I'd say Gilbert had the right to be pissed, and whether or not you agree with how he expressed this right, it was again, his right. Just as it was Lebron's right to leave. It's hard, but it's fair. End of story, right?
And then, for some inexplicable reason, somebody asked Rebb'n Jessie what he thought.
Jesse Jackson criticized Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert on Sunday, saying Gilbert sees LeBron James as a "runaway slave" and that the owner's comments after the free-agent forward decided to join the Miami Heat put the player in danger.Come on, man, kill the hyperbole. I know Jesse is still pissed that Rebb'n Al's long since leapfrogged him in the Ex-Civil Rights All Stars pecking order, but making this a racial thing is just silly.
Shortly after James announced his decision last week, Gilbert fired off an incendiary letter to Cleveland's fans, ripping the 25-year-old and promising to deliver a title before James wins one. He called James' decision "cowardly" and later told The Associated Press he believes James quit during a handful of Cavaliers playoff games.
"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."
Jackson said Gilbert's comments were "mean, arrogant and presumptuous."
"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers," the reverend said in a release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "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."
Lebron, despite what anyone might say about his permanently furrowed brow and old man's hairline, is no Nat Turner. He's just an entitled jerk whom Gilbert has to take much of the blame for further enabling. But he isn't a slave. If the freedom to choose your own plantation, and reap a 9 figure salary makes one a slave, then hand me my shackles now, Massa.
Just as Lebron had the freedom to make a mockery of free agency, Gilbert had the right to be a total and complete jackass in voicing his displeasure. And in case nobody noticed, Gilbert was hardly alone in his displeasure with how Lebron handed "The Decision". The city of Cleveland is pretty pissed as a whole, with folks burning #23 jerseys and whatnot. If you're an owner who still has a building to fill up, Bron or no Bron, it's actually a pretty smart business decision to tap into the anger of jilted fans and use this as a quasi marketing tool, much like Lebron's spectacle raised his q-rating to unprecedented heights and will probably reap him more money as a result.
It's a business, man. It's not indentured servitude. Cut it out, Jesse.
Question: Does Jesse have a point about Dan Gilbert's disrespect of Lebron, or does he need to go have a Coke and a smile and STFU? Was Dan Gilbert's Dear Lebron Letter merely tasteless guerrilla marketing, or a borderline racist diss track?