Monday, July 12, 2010

I Ain't No Slave

The Reverend Jessie Jackson comments that Cleavland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert spoke about Lebron James as if he was a "run away slave" was on point. I just wish he had included New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who criticized James in a column titled "Miami Hoops Cartel" a clear play on words ascribing Bosh, Wade and James to the Miami's notorious drug cartels. Dowd writes that Gilbert was "played' by James.

What both Dowd and Gilbert rant's fail to take in account, is that in the not too distant pass Pro Sport Owners brought and sold players like they were running a plantation. Players had no control over their careers, where they would play or how much money they would demand for their services.

The NBA in the seventies and eighties had a history of plucking young unsophisticated and uneducated athletes out of the America's Ghettos and exploiting them for millions of dollars and depositing them back as uneducated and broke as they found them.

The facts are as follows: James an 18 year-old high school educated kid from a single household signed a series of contracts for a term of seven years. He made a little money off the contracts but Gilbert made hundreds of millions. His building was sold out every night. He made millions off of jerseys, cups, t-shirts and whatever else he could plaster James face on. James turned his also-ran franchise into one of the most valuable in sports. At the end of the contract which James fulfilled, James took his services to the market place and entered into a new business arrangement with a new partner. That sounds like capitalism to me.

Now Gilbert using slave master tones calls James a "coward and quitter". And Dowd calls James and his two teammates gangsters, as if they committed a sin by maximizing their on court and off court opportunities by choosing to play together.

I would much rather see James, Bosh and Wade rising through the smoke in Miami's arena as future billionaires, than the images so prevalent in the seventies and eighties of ex-players washing cars, in drug rehab or jail. As Curt Flood who sacrificed his career decades ago for James to do exactly what he did, said so eloquently " I ain't no slave"