Jackson Defends his Reaction to Gilbert’s Letter

July 14, 2010 – 5:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

It doesn’t appear that Dan Gilbert is backing off the stance that he took when he wrote his open letter to Cleveland Cavaliers fans after LeBron James’ decision to go to Miami last week. Reverend Jesse Jackson isn’t backing down, either.

The civil rights leader invoked racism and slavery when breaking down Gilbert’s emotional, spur-of-the moment letter. Amongst the items that critics have attacked most in Jackson’s response is that he portrayed the highly paid James as a slave and that bringing race into this subject detracts from actual acts of racism and slavery occurring around the world.

Jackson has now responded to those claims, and he’s standing firm on all of his initial thoughts.

Reverend Jesse Jackson joined Fox Sports Radio with Stephen A. Smith to reiterate his comments on Dan Gilbert’s letter, defend those comments and to talk about how NBA commissioner David Stern has handled the situation.

On his feelings about Dan Gilbert’s letter:

“Until Curt Flood came along and … won his lawsuit, owners could buy, sell and lease players. Many of them still have that same mentality. … [Gilbert] says I covered for you for all these years. I’ve covered for you, protected you and if I can own your contract for $128 million I’ll keep covering, but now you have betrayed us. Betrayed? Then he goes beyond that and says that these athletes must be held accountable, I guess referring to Wade and Bosh and James, suggesting, perhaps … some kind of collusion. 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.”

On bringing slavery into the argument:

“He ran away from his plantation. [He's] the owner of the Cavs, not the players who are on the Cavs. … He had big plans for James, and … James chose another way. He seemed very spurned by his money was not spent the main [way he wanted it] and that’s why I likened it to a runaway slave.”

On bringing slavery into an argument about a player who makes millions of dollars:

“Didn’t you read Bill Rhoden’ book “Forty Million Dollar Slave?” I’m sure you did. 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.”

On NBA commissioner David Stern’s comment that Jackson is mistaken:

“He knows I work hard to get these athletes in college to graduate on time, work hard on that. Pro players, I work hard for them to extend their careers by not getting over their heels in debt and not shortening their careers in foolish things and actions beyond the court. … I have high regard for Commissioner Stern.”

On whether he would have felt the same way if Dallas owner Mark Cuban had posted the same letter about Dirk Nowitzki:

“We all bring up our own cultural frames of reference. I went to jail this July 50 years ago for trying to use a public library. … I’m unfortunately a child of slavery, that’s my frame of reference.”

On what the appropriate punishment for Dan Gilbert:

“I think the first thing is he should apologize to LeBron James. LeBron has meant to much to him, to the city and to the league for him to accuse him in that way of being a betrayer, of being a quitter and all of that.”

Listen to the entire interview with Reverend Jesse Jackson on Fox Sports Radio here

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  1. 6 Responses to “Jackson Defends his Reaction to Gilbert’s Letter”

  2. why does everything have to be racial with jesse jackson? that stuff ended years ago. i realize he is entitled to his opinion, but what box did he just crawl out of. there was nothing said that would or should be expressed as racial. gilbert was just venting. he did feel betrayed. he may have went a little to far in his letter. he was expressing his feelings from his heat. jesse jackson needs to just go away.

    By don ford on Jul 14, 2010

  3. I believe that Jesse hit the nail right on the head. This guy has made hundreds of millions on the back of Lebron. Place the shoe on the other foot…if Gilbert could increase his net worth by dumping Lebron he would have wasted not time in doing so. People will continue to be upset if we do and upset if we don’t. This was Lebron’s decision. South Beach? or Cleveland…no contest. Gilbert had a sense of ownership/entitlement. Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.

    By gmt on Jul 14, 2010

  4. Most situations (whether one wants to believe it or not) are centered around race. The naive living-in-la-la-land deniers don’t want to believe that, because that would be too painful to focus and realize that racism still exists and especially at that level of income. In Lebron James’ situation, Jesse Jackson is absolutely correct to liken Gilbert’s words to that of a slave owner. Whereby the slave owner believes he has done his slaves a “favor” by giving the leftover table scraps to the slave although the slave has worked his/her ass off in the fields, farming, and preparing the food for his wealthy table.

    Rev. Jesse Jackson, I applaud you. I only wish that others could see what is happening in high profile athletics and in corporate America. That slave owner to slave mentality has not gone away, it’s disgused and if you don’t pay close attention to it, you just might be a victim yourself.

    By Jennifer on Jul 14, 2010

  5. What happened to two weeks notice? Lebron just did things the wrong way. It was very tasteless and without class. What Gilbert had to say had nothing to do with race. The way a person carries their self shows how they were brought up, what they learned in school, and it is not all about sports and money. Lebron has really become arrogant since people gave him the title king. He is not my king. My king is King Jesus. The only King. As far as him being motivated by all that has happened over the summer, so what we are use to it. He better hope his other teammates do the same or he will have what he had in Cleveland. -0-

    By Cheryl on Oct 2, 2010

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