I was listening to the podcast of yesterday’s Pardon the Interruption on the way in to work this morning. The topic was (still) Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert going off on LeBron James.
With all the animosity Gilbert directed at his former star, I never considered, as a white person, that his words carried any type of racial overtones. But yes, they did, at least according to the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
PTI co-host Michael Wilbon — who is African-American — affirmed that, yes, there was something in Gilbert’s comments that smacked of a “slave master mentality,” that James was his “property,” and that Gilbert felt it was his prerogative to “keep” James as long as he deemed appropriate. Guest host (and old white dude) Bob Ryan, filling in for Tony Kornheiser, didn’t see it that way, comparing Gilbert’s remarks to those of a scorned lover, as many of us — evidently too naive to read between the lines — believed them to be.
Here’s the clip from the show. What do you think?
Granted, this blog is directed at a specific demographic, but am I being too sensitive against Jackson/Wilbon or too insensitive re: Gilbert?
I know it’s impossible to compare, but I can’t help thinking if this was Larry Bird leaving the Cavaliers and pulling the same stunt as James, don’t you think Gilbert would react the same way, with the same caustic statement? Would anyone criticize him for the “slave master mentality” if that was the case? Is it such a philosophy directed against African-Americans or athletes in general? For decades, team owners treated their players as chattel, trading, selling, or releasing them on a whim. Just because they’re shelling out scadillions of dollars doesn’t mean their underlying line of reasoning has changed. “You work for me. I pay you plenty. You owe me — and the fans (but mostly me) — something.”
By the way, despite noting that Gilbert “was completely correct in expressing his disappointment,” NBA commissioner David Stern handed down a $100,000 for his remarks.Tags: Dan Gilbert, Jesse Jackson, LeBron James