Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two Wrongs Don't Make Right

By Jon E. Easter

If you read Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's childish letter written in Comic Sans font published that was on his basketball team's website, it was hard not to laugh. The letter has been well published, and Gilbert was pretty much universally (and rightly) lambasted for it. Of course, it didn't take long for the Rev. Jesse Jackson to weigh in.

There was a time that Rev. Jackson was taken seriously on issues, and he does, at times, still speak eloquently on a variety of issues in this country including race. Like Al Sharpton, whose mere presence in the city has set Abdul a twitter, Jackson is a lightning rod. Still, when you say ridiculous things, it's hard not to see why.

In a news release, Rev. Jackson rightly criticizes Gilbert's letter and raises some very good points, but he brings up an image that has no place in the millionaires world that is the NBA. Read the full release:

“Mr. Dan Gilbert's accusations, expressed in an open letter to LeBron James after his announcement that he will play next year’s NBA season for the Miami Heat, have legal and social implications for the league, its union and the character of LeBron James. By saying that he has gotten a free pass and that people have covered for him way too long, Gilbert suggests that LeBron has done something illegal or illicit.

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.

He must know the Curt Flood suit, which changed plantation rules and created free agency; and the Spencer Haywood suit that changed eligibility rules.

If he believes that LeBron quit in games 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, then, why did he fire the coach? If he believes that LeBron intentionally quit, determining the outcome of those games, why did he pursue him and offer him and additional $120 million to stay in Cleveland?

These accusations endanger LeBron. His jersey is being burned in effigy, and he is being projected as a betrayer by the owner.

When players or coaches speak disrespectfully to or about referees, they are fined. If Mr. Gilbert cannot prove that LeBron changed games by quitting, he defames his character. He should have to face a challenge by the NBA and the players association. LeBron has every right to an apology.

Other players cannot just watch this as if it is LeBron’s personal problem. This is an attack upon players in general.

LeBron is not a child, nor is he bound to play on Gilbert’s plantation and be demeaned. He has been a model citizen and has inspired the children of Akron, Cleveland, the State of Ohio and the United States.

He has conducted camps for children, helped to win a gold medal for our nation and his public deportment has been excellent.

Mr. Gilbert's statement is mean, arrogant and presumptuous.

I hope that LeBron will speak up and speak out clearly and forcefully.”

So, according to Jackson, Mr. Gilbert considers LeBron a runaway slave? Wow. I don't even know how to react to that. LeBron made $15,779,912 last year and passed on a $17+ million option to sign with Miami. Now, Gilbert's reaction was childish and mean-spirited, but I would hardly consider LeBron's time in Cleveland in the manner that Jackson wants to have us believe it was.

LeBron should speak out forcefully. He should speak out against Gilbert AND Jackson.

And one last thing...
As far as how I feel about LeBron's move, I think he did what he thought was best. Dan Gilbert knows that the NBA is a business. His childish temper tantrum makes the great owners look even better. The main reason why Cleveland never won a title with LeBron wasn't LeBron's fault. The reason they never won a title was that he never opened up his wallet for much of a supporting cast.

Hat tip to Indiana Pacers announcer Mark Boyle who posted this article on his Facebook profile.

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