CHICAGO — 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
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
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
Messages were left Sunday night
seeking comment from Gilbert, the Cavaliers and James.
Jackson also called Gilbert's
comments an attack on all NBA players and said the owner should face a
"challenge" from the league and the players' association.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank declined