Lebron, Gilbert & Jesse.. This is Bigger than Any Hip Hop Beef-But Who Wins when Millionaires Fight?

Here’s the podcast to our July 13th Hard Knock Radio show

w/ sports columnist/author Dave Zirin and

sports broadcaster/emcee FranK Red on Lebron James and also the passing of NY Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner


Everyone is talking about Lebron James and the brouhaha he has with Cleveland Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert.  Adding to the mix is Jesse Jackson. Lemme just say for the record this is not Hip Hop beef. It’s a beef between 3 men who have more money and resources than most of us could ever dream for… It’s important to not this because their beef becomes are distraction as we discovered the other night when Lebron’s ‘Decision’ where to make his next millions overshadowed the ‘Decision’ to slap an out of control cop on the wrist with manslaughter for the killing of Oscar Grant.

At any given moment, a kid from the projects or a rich millionaire like Lebron could be subjected to the harsh treatment of someone with a badge and a gun..

I think Dan Gilbert reacted more as a fan than an owner with his letter, however because what he says in his position as owner is gonna hold a certain amount of weight, he had to be more mindful or at least state it plainly so there’s no confusion. I’m not alone in my opinion, the NBA went a fined ole boy 100 Gs for the outburst.

I think Jesse Jackson was right in his assessment if he looks at Gilbert from the standpoint of him being an owner and not a fan… But Jesse has got to be taken to task for ignoring the Grant case. There’s no notice on his site about Grant. I could assume that maybe he wasn’t up on it, because it didn’t get national play..but there was also no mention of the explosive torture case involving former Chicago Captain Jon Burge who was recently found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice and was responsible for torturing hundreds of Black men in Chicago over a 30 year period. This was right in Jesse’s backyard and while we give him props for the battles he does take on, like Gilbert when he speaks his words take on extra weight. A younger, more hungry Jesse Jackson would’ve made the connection to Grant when speaking about Lebron..

Here’s a list of Jesse’s recent press releases. http://www.rainbowpush.org/news

Lastly we have Lebron James.. At 25 the weight of the world shouldn’t be on his shoulders, but he’s got to be smarter and more aware or come off looking like a big spoiled cry baby. He got used by the media that went above-board to focus on him while obscuring the verdict of Oscar Grant. You know it was huge because it even obscured a lot of coverage around the riot which was in reaction to the decision. Is that Lebron’s fault.. Technically ‘No’, but ethically ‘Yes’. Because he has a lot, much is expected and you can’t run around calling yourself King and not be up on issues pertinent to your ‘subjects’.  I think the editorial written by the folks at Whatupdoe in Detroit says it all.

Lastly I’ll say this..a great basketball player is one who transcends the sport and exercises leadership both on and off the court. Lebron is a master on the court but still has a way to go to live up to the title of King…His challenge was to leverage his greatness and be in ‘partnership’ by shifting the balance of power between him and owner Dan Gilbert. That would be the ascension I’m talking about.

Can Lebron James be the next Paul Robeson?

Right now he was a paid employee and not someone who was stepping up and finding away to make it happen for his team. He’s in a sport thats unlike any other where one guy can truly make a difference. Lebron left before making that difference in terms of being a champ and he knows this no matter how many rings he gets elsewhere. He knows he has unfinished business in Cleveland.. Same way Muhammad Ali knew he had to fight Joe Frazier after he beat George Forman and was the champ.  In addition since James calls himself King, he’s gonna have to move in the direction of being ‘that guy’ who smartly weighs in on issues of the day. Failure to do that as he gets older renders him to be cartoonish…In other words at 25 it’s cute to call yourself ‘King’, after he gets older it becomes silly unless he does King like things. I say he needs to take a page from singer John Legend on the activism/education tip and strive to be more Paul Robensonisque.

Until then Lebron is someone who we will say pulled a Meg Whitman. He’s no different than Ebay chair who is trying to buy her way to the Governor’s mansion in California. Buying your way to a championship in the NBA is not being a true winner.

Davey D

Open Letter to from Dan Gilbert


Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

Does Cleveland Owner Dan Gilbert sound like someone w/ a slave-owners Mentality?

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

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.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Reacts to Dan Gilbert’s Open Letter


“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.”

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visithttp://www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366.

Here’s a response to Jesse’s remarks…from the website Whatupdoe.com out of Detroit..

Mr. Jackson,

Let me start out by saying that I recognize your accomplishments and everything you’ve done in the past. I know you marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. I know you were there when Martin was assassinated. I’m aware that, in the 80’s, you orchestrated a huge voter registration drive that led to millions of African Americans registering to vote and that you were a huge factor in Chicago electing its first African American Mayor in 1983. I know that you helped to found the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Council. It’s amazing that in 1984, 1990, and 1999 you were able to enter Syria, Iraq, and Yugoslavia, respectively, to negotiate the release of United States soldiers and civilians during war times.

With that being said…

You’ve never let us forget you marched with Martin and were there with him when he was assassinated. In fact, you pretty much remind us just about every time you speak. Your voter registration drives were for your own selfish gain during your presidential runs in 1984 and 1988. I also know that your exact location during Martin’s assassination has been the center of controversy. You were actually suspended by the SCLC, in 1971, for using the organization for personal gain. You then resigned shortly after being suspended by the SCLC only to start Operation PUSH  to “save humanity,” and founded the National Rainbow Coalition that sought out equal rights for African Americans, women, and homosexuals. Ironically, in 2001, it was unearthed that you had an affair with a woman that led to the birth of a child. In addition to that, to keep your mistress quiet, you paid her around $36,000 in Rainbow Push Coalition funds for “moving expenses” and “contract work,” with an additional guarantee for $40,000 more for future, “contract work,” but rescinded once the affair was made public. The same funds from your “non-profit,” that are solicited donations, in most cases I’m assuming, to support the causes your organization is supposed to be supporting.

You are also the same African American activist that was heard saying, during an interview, that, in regards to President Obama, you wanted to, “cut his nuts off,” for lecturing black churches about the state of welfare? The same President Obama that has been a pillar and champion for equality even before his election into office?

The last few times I’ve seen or heard your name mentioned? The highly publicized Duke Lacrosse scandal, the highly publicized scandal of unfunny Seinfeld actor/comedian Michael Richards’ usage of the word, “nigger,” in response to African American hecklers, and the highly publicized N.A.A.C.P.’s burial of the word, “nigger,” and all variations of it.  And now you’re lashing out against Dan Gilbert for his highly publicized open letter to LeBron James with your own open letter.

Well, Mr. Jackson, this is my open letter to you.

Quite frankly, to be blunt, I don’t know the difference between you (along with Rev. Al Sharpton) and an ambulance chasing personal injury attorney. Just that, in this case, the ambulance is free publicity.

Now, I didn’t mention any of the above to point fingers or to be hurtful but to bring up a point: Everyone’s human. We all fall victim to our emotions and actions. No one is above reprieve and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt and second chances.

However, if there is one thing I am sick of, I am sick and tired of the race card. I’m sick and tired of race being made an issue. And I’m definitely sick and tired of you, your cohort Rev. Al Sharpton, and everyone using racism as a crutch for some sort of favoritism or pity. For me and my generation, slavery is no longer a valid excuse for us not improving the quality of life for us and those surrounding us.

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on Dan Gilbert’s open letter being worded in a way that, “suggests that LeBron has done something illegal or illicit.” Should Gilbert have let his emotions dictate his words? No. He’s the owner of an NBA franchise. Not only could that letter be bad for future business, but as an owner he should hold himself to a higher standard. But, with that being said, he has nothing to apologize for. Are we asking people to apologize for the way they feel? What are we doing here?

LeBron most certainly fulfilled his contractual obligations, thus being allowed to make whatever decision he felt best for himself.

But there is nothing in Gilbert’s open letter to LeBron that signifies a slave and a master relationship, nor is there anything in Gilbert’s open letter that signifies him seeing LeBron James as a, “runaway slave.” Your egregious, extremely exaggerated connections of his letter to slavery and racism is reckless. It does more to hurt race relations in our country than it does to strengthen them.

continue reading Open Letter to Jesse Jackson here...http://www.whutupdoe.com/an-open-letter-to-jesse-jackson.html

15 comments on “Lebron, Gilbert & Jesse.. This is Bigger than Any Hip Hop Beef-But Who Wins when Millionaires Fight?

  1. Pingback: Lebron, Gilbert & Jesse.. This is Bigger than Any Hip Hop Beef-But Who Wins when Millionaires Fight? (via Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner-(The Blog)) « Davey D’s Archived Essential Hip Hop Articles

  2. Real runaway slaves everywhere are rolling in their graves.

    It will be interesting to see how much $$ the rainbow coalition, or whatever JJ’s org is now called, gets from Le Bron next year. He sacrificed allot of his credibility on this one giving Le Bron a little cover. I hope it is worth it.

    I’m not real good with southern history maybe someone can help me out. Did a slave ever in the history of the country run away to another plantation to be a slave there? Did a slave ever run away while in the top 2% earners in the country? Jessie’s playing a cynical game of six degrees of racism here. It’s a shame because white america will look at this and be further convinced racism is over if this is what passes for slavery’s legacy.

    When Jesse does come around and stand up for a case like Oscar Grant’s he will be bringing allot less weight to it. At this point it may be more harm than good.

  3. I just want to clarify that at no time in LeBrons basketball career has he ever called himself the king. That moniker was given to him by sports media because of the hype surrounding him coming out of high school and his last name which is a reference to King James from the bible.

  4. don’t matter who placed what on who james has been one of the most overated nba players in over 30 years.

  5. Did a slave ever in the history of the country run away to another plantation to be a slave there?

    Exactly what I was thinking in reaction to Jesse expressing this illogical argument. Lebron is simply going to another master (as Jesse labels Lebron’s former owner) to generate millions for him. Similar to a slave auction. Not only Jesse’s analogy was illogical, it was ignorantly an insult to the slaves who suffered under cruel treatment and received nothing in return.

    After that spectacle of the ‘decision’, as Davey said, Lebron has a lot to learn. Dude is being used in ways he don’t know. First, and most certainly won’t be forgotten, with his broadcast simply overshadowing Oscar’s verdict.

  6. n. brown is right I never heard Lebron refer to himself as the King. The moniker is media hype and now the same media is using the name they hyped up for him, against him. Got to love the media.

    Gilbert ; If he felt that way about Lebron all along he shouldn’t want him on his team anyway. As a coach I wouldn’t want anybody on my team who I think quit. He came out talking about the man like he was an object rather than a human being, like he belongs to Cleveland; which leads us to Jesse:

    Jesse: All he means to say is Lebron has the right to decide his own destiny. Regardless of any other factors the decision is his. He is not beholden to Cleveland. Also Jesse is getting up in age now, so he’s getting a bit cantankerous when it comes to addressing conflicts (grumpy old men).

    Flavorblade opinion: I don’t feel sorry for the owners, they cut players with impunity. Players give their best years to the company get hurt or a hot rookie comes in – goodbye. What’s in the owners best interest prevails; shoe on the other foot they don’t like it. Start writing emotional letters and stuff. The world is Lebrons to explore. Everybody has their own path. People thought Lebron was on the Jordan path. Stay with your draft team and win a championship in 7 years. Well Cleveland doesn’t have anybody like Scottie Pippin, and this Boston team is better than the satisfied Detroit team Jordan finally got past. It’s time for Lebron to mentally get off the Jordan path. Get your own number. Move away from home for Christs sake, the world is bigger than Ohio. Go be with friends and average a triple double in Miami.

    Flavorblade prediction: Miami vs Lakers in championship.
    Miami season statistics: Wade 25 points, 5 assists, 2.5 steals. Bosh 21 points 11 rebounds, 1.8 blocks. James 18 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 1.4 steals.

  7. Davey,

    I thought about some of the same points you raised. So much coverage devoted to “The Decision” and very little national coverage to “The Verdict”. Lebon is deified as “a god” and Oscar Grant is just another “criminal nigger” that deserved what he got.

  8. Jesse is a clown, there is no doubt about that. Sadly, Jesse and Al are at the fore front, in terms of black leadership(but hey, if they were the real deal, they would be dead by now). In any event, I so tired of the self righteousness. Jesse made a great point, was he tailgating…hell yeah…but he still made a good point and I couldn’t help but to think the same thing….Lebron doesn’t owe shit to Dan Gilbert. Dan Gilbert is making it seem like he owns Lebron. I could see if Lebron demanded to be traded or something, but he didn’t. He honored his contract. Gilbert like a fool, didn’t bring the right guys in there to play with Lebron. To the guy who wrote the essay attacking Jesse, what are your credentials, what gives you the right to throw stones. Do you have all of the answers? He didn’t say that slavery had anything to do with this, he was just making a point. As I said Jesse is a clown, there is no doubt about that, but we need to stop waiting on people to start speaking up for us and we need to start working in our own communities to bring about a change.

  9. I think after 7 years it’s better for lebron to be a player that compliments the team instead of being the main focus. Even with scottie pippen and jordan, it didn’t take them 7 years, to me it was like former cav gm danny ferry inhailed those lebron’s the next jordan fumes, but never really put a team or coach around lebron. If saint pat comes down to coach the heat u can bet that lebron will say riley is the greatest coach i have ever played for in my entire life, and that’s saying alot for a 7 year nba vet even without college.

  10. I watched game five of the boston series, and in my mind he did quit. We want to forget, the Cavs had the number one seed in the playoffs, so don’t tell me his team wasn’t good enough. Not speaking of a racial thing, but as a sport thing, Lebron James quit the last two games of that series. Again, not taking for the Cavs owner, but as a NBA fan, he gave Lebron everything he wanted. Lebron was the coach of the Cavs(not Mike Brown), the GM & the owner of that team. Lebron has never had a coach, because he ran that team. He never listened to Mike Brown, he ran the huddle, he called the plays. Mike Brown was a coach in title, just Gilbert is the owner in title, Lebron was the true owner until he left. Gilbert is mad for two reasons, the first reason he lost his cash cow, second he bend over backwards to give king james what he wanted. Gilbert fired/hired coaches just please James. Gilbert made player moves just to please James, not to better the team. Gilbert shouldn’t had gave James that much say, he should made sound NBA moves instead of letting James run the team.

  11. to me lebron james let it be known his days as a cav were numbered when he walked off the court in anger at the end of the game 5 lose to the orlando magic 3rd of the playoffs in 2009.

  12. Loverboy since when has jesse been in the forefront of leadership.. What would be the measure of that? What does jesse or Al lead that makes them front and center over who? Stop with the 20 year rehashing of stuff that bears no sembalance of reality…Both Jesse and Al have organizations.. they weigh in on issues and have an audience that ride for them.. in 2010 there are lots of folks who can make the same claim..

  13. Daveyd,

    Come on homie be realistic. Al sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan are considered to be our leaders. I did not say that they are real leaders. What they are doesn’t matter. They get attention and people assume that they represent us. That is what I meant. However, you were blasting Jesse for not mentioning the trail. Apparently, you feel that he is at the fore front.

  14. “I just want to clarify that at no time in LeBrons basketball career has he ever called himself the king. ”

    that is dumbest logic I have ever heard of in trying to make a point. I don’t think lebron needs an apologist for himself at the moment.

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