Leave it to Jesse Jackson to turn a trivial billionaire’s temper tantrum into Dred Scott reincarnated. As Shaq once said, “One lucky shot deserves another”, and one dumb comment deserves a dumber response.  I wish Dan Gilbert would stay out of the liquor cabinet while he’s typing, but I also wish Jesse Jackson would leave his thoughts out of the sporting world just as much as I’d like Torii Hunter to stick his head out of race relations.  Jesse Jackson once wrote an asinine letter of his own accusing the Green Bay Packers of racism for firing Ray Rhodes.

However, for an owner I’ve never heard much about until Thursday, Dan Gilbert has drawn attention back to a franchise most thought would quietly fade into the background.  Guess what. We’re still talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers.    When was the last time you heard a peep from the Indiana Pacers or Toronto Raptors?

Both sides have reasons to be upset in this dispute.  Gilbert’s complaint lied in the presentation of Lebron’s Decision.  Comparing Dan Gilbert’s letter to a “slave owner” mentality is absurd.  As far as my American history knowledge covers, Dred Scott didn’t announce his freedom and defect to John Brown’s Rebellion in front of 200 Philadelphia Weekly reporters before mailing his decision to his former “owner” via Pony Express.

I guarantee you most slave owners would consider themselves fortunate not to have to pay $120 million dollars over 6 years for a single “slave”.  Ironically, in light of all these unsavory comparisons, Gilbert’s Cavaliers were the only franchise capable of paying Lebron the highest salary to play basketball. However, Gilbert has reason to be upset.  The Cavaliers are a 9 figure investment revolving around Lebron.  Take a peek atat the Milwaukee Bucks who are still reeling from the post-Lew Alcindor era and Chicago which has stumbled repeatedly for a decade in building a playoff contender.

Comparing this to the “slave mentality” is absurd.  Indentured servant is more appropriate.  The only comparison is the title in their names and the appropriate melanin levels.  It’s akin to Glenn Beck calling President Obama a racist for siding with his friend Professor Gates, who was wrongfully arrested inside his own home by a white officer.

This issue isn’t as white and black as one side being solely responsible for the fractured relationship.  Gilbert took offense in his letter not just for himself but for the city of Cleveland as well.  The city of Cleveland celebrated Lebron as the favorite son of Ohio.

Gilbert’s feelings of sabotage stem from Lebron refusing to speak with Tom Izzo, who was vacillating between returning to Michigan State and coaching the Cavaliers.  Izzo got the message and returned to the Spartans.  The Cavs gave Lebron institutional control over their organization and suddenly he was unwilling to speak with a coaching candidate.   No wonder he felt the fix was in.  Lebron should have been miffed at Gilbert holding a press conference to state that Lebron would not be consulted on the head coaching search.

Essentially he made a power play.
As Gilbert said, “The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way, shape or form with firing our head coach, involved in the transition to general manager Chris Grant and will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires is totally, 100 percent and patently false,” Gilbert said. “It’s unfair to him. It’s unfair to the franchise.  You can’t help people from typing up this sort of craziness on the internet.”  He should  know all about insane Internet commenters

Cleveland Cavalier fans idealized Lebron enough to buy his jersey and were upset enough to burn it.  They would have been equally upset if he were a white player from Akron spurned them for a star studded roster in sunny South Beach.  When Mo Williams signed a lucrative contract with Cleveland from Milwaukee, Milwaukee fans weren’t burning Bucks jerseys because they weren’t emotionally invested in Mo Williams’ departure.

If I were to consult a psychologist, they’d probably tell you Cleveland was exhibiting symptoms of the displacement defense mechanism.  Cleveland was hurt Lebron essentially punched the Cavs and the Cleveland sports scene back into the stone ages.  If the kid from Akron, who dropped into the franchise’s lap as the basketball savior couldn’t bring a championship to Cleveland, who ever will.  However, instead of expressing sadness, Cavs fans displaced those emotions with anger and vitriol.

In addition, he bolted for South Beach, which only further revealed their feelings of insecurity.  Cleveland is a blue collar, midwestern city with a miserable climate.  South Beach is a tropical paradise where the rich and famous live and party and college kids lounge beach side in bikinis.  Brett Favre was booed in his return to Green Bay for forcing his way out of town.  Conversely, Kevin Garnett is still revered in Minnesota and Boston even today.  There’s a tact to leaving town.  You don’t throw yourself a parade Live on ESPN as you leave town.

40 years ago, the Cardinals traded outfielder Curt Flood to the Phillies sparking the fight which ultimately leading to free agency and exposed the last form of institutional slavery in sports.  However, black players weren’t the only athletes simply bound to Major League Baseball’s controversial reserve clause.  In Flood’s autobiography, he stated his initial displeasure stemmed from learning of his trade to Philadelphia from mid-level management instead of from the general manager himself. Dan Gilbert learned of Lebron’s decision from an associate of King James just before he took to the stage.

The pressure is on for King James.  Lebron will have to win six titles in Cleveland to equal what one title would have meant for Cleveland.  I’ll leave you with the closing words of Dan Gilbert’s letter: The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.
That night he slept peacefully in his sprawling estate…in Michigan.