Maybe it's time for Jesse Jackson to retire. In the not so recent past we find Jesse Jackson hovering over controversies with racial overtones. And just as often, he hovers over a controversy and introduces racial overtones- that were not there- so he can inject his brand: The Reverend Jesse Jackson.
By becoming a bit player in the LeBron James free agency fiasco he has done that again: force himself into a situation, exploiting the race of an individual involved for his own gain.
If you've been on vacation the last week under a rock, last Thursday night in a highly dramatized ESPN television event, LeBron James told the nation that he will be signing with the Miami Heat. LeBron James is arguably the NBA's best player. He is also, arguably, the best that will ever play. Even if he doesn't eclipse Michael Jordan, barring significant injury he has the basketball skill to be mentioned in the same breath. At 25 years old, any team that signs LeBron puts itself in a much better position than it was when last season ended.
The city of Cleveland, which devoted itself to LeBron over the last seven years, argued that it was the best fit for LeBron. It argued that he should be loyal to his hometown and that loyalty should keep him in Northeast Ohio. Without explicitly saying it, Clevelanders told the nation that it as a city would have nothing without LeBron.
LeBron, allowing Cleveland to resurrect itself from such a pitiful position of having nothing but a basketball player as a reason to visit, decided to leave for Miami.
The day following LeBron's departure, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers provided us the following rant:
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;
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:
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE"
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.
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....
Completely over the top? Bitter? Yes on both counts. But racist? Even reading between the lines it doesn't appear racism is at work. But Jesse Jackson is able to read between the lines between the lines.
"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers,'' Jackson said of Gilbert in a statement released by 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 contract.''
Let's make it clear: Jesse Jackson has done more for the civil rights movement than 99.99% of the population. Americans should respect the contribution he has made to the culture and history of our country. That said, maybe its time for Jesse Jackson to retire. He does less credit to his years of service, with creating racial tension where it doesn't exist. Here, we have a very upset owner of a basketball team breaking Rule #1: never send emails or leave voicemails when you're angry. And he had reason to be peeved. The best basketball player in the world just left his team. He was upset. Breaking Rule #1, he sent a press release without cooling off first.
For Jesse Jackson to inject race into this sports story is just yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is not one-- which is too bad when there really is a fire. That's the problem with Jesse Jackson entering this fray. Although some may argue otherwise, his work is not finished. Our nation has come a long way, but it has more work to do. When he points a finger and screams "racist" eventually people will become numb to his finger pointing (if we haven't yet). By finding a racial controversy when there isn't one, he diminishes true problems when they happen. He simply won't be taken seriously because of all the other times he remade a situation to inject himself in a story.
Influential people jumping on the race card bandwagon every time a white and black man disagree is against the spirit of which Jesse Jackson worked in the sixties. Remember that dream where we will not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character? That dream will not become reality when every time a white man and black man disagree (or vice versa) we judge the participants by their skin color rather than their actions. It does the civil rights movement disservice- and sets the next generation back- if people can't disagree without being called a racist.
Reverend Jackson, thank you for all your hard work to make our nation better. To stay relevant today, with another generation listening to you for the first time, be selective about when you get involved. Because by becoming a caricature of yourself, the next generation will question all the things you accomplished over the years. Use your brand when it's necessary for the betterment of our country, rather than the betterment of yourself.