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Monday, July 12, 2010

Athletes Aren't Slaves

Dan Gilbert was rather emotional following the announcement that Lebron James wasn't returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


Now, we can all argue whether or not this rant showed the class worthy of an NBA owner. It's certainly going to give pause to other NBA players. Jesse Jackson sees this rant as something more sinister.

He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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 James made north of $60 million in salary while playing basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made exponentially more than that in endorsements over the same period. In fact, he's made so much money so quickly that James plans on being a billionaire and even befriended Warren Buffet who gave him some financial advice.

Almost as unbelievable as the comment itself, Michael Wilbon showed support for Jackson on his show Pardon the Interruption. Fortunately, not all African American sportswriters are as dopey as Wilbon and Jason Whitlock called the comments for what they are.

I could pretend Jesse Jackson speaks for such a tiny minority that his inflammatory, predictable and misguided remarks about LeBron James and Dan Gilbert are unworthy of rebuke.

But then, I’d have to ignore the mountain of e-mails that poured into my laptop from African-American brothers and sisters making the same argument.

Jesse has a constituency, a passionate group of idiots who believe the best way to combat white-wing political bigots such as Limbaugh and Hannity is with black-wing political bigotry.

And so, in defense of LeBron’s narcissistic ego explosion and Gilbert’s emotional reaction to it, Jesse compared Gilbert to an 18th-century slave owner.

Race relations will never take another step forward if comments like this are not only allowed but endorsed.


AG said...

I think everyone is still kindof in shock at the whole situation. I for one was convinced that when Lebron said he would announce his decision on TV that he was going back to Cleveland because nobody would be foolish enough to announce they were abandoning Cleveland so publicly.

I'm not saying he shouldn't have left, I'm not saying he owed Cleveland anything, but I do think he's hurt his image as the best player of this era. I mean, he basically agreed to be Robin to D-Wade's Batman (I guess Chris Bosh would be Alfred then). That's D-Wade's team, he's already won a title there. My sister lives in Miami, she's not that big a sports fan, and even she calls Miami "Wade County."

If you wanna be the best, you have to LEAD a team to a title. Heck, Robert Horry has a bunch of titles and nobody thinks he's the best. If he had gone to Chicago, he'd be arriving at an early enough time in Derrick Roses' career that he wouldn't be overshadowed by Rose. And if he had won a title in Cleveland, that'd be worth 2 in Miami in terms of greatness.

The question in my mind is no longer whether Lebron is as good as Kobe. Now the question is, at what point will Kevin Durant pass him?

mike volpe said...

We'll see how it all plays out. I think this was a legal conspiracy by three guys that decided to create something akin to a dream team.