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It didn’t take long for LeBron James to realize that he was a victim. Asked recently why his popularity (Q-Score) had him dropping from one of the most popular sports figures to only sixth from the bottom, Lebron had this to say to CNN:

“I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor,” said James.

If you’re imagining how one of America’s young, black multi-millionaires manages to think of himself as a victim, you only need to look at his influences.

Jesse Jackson reminded us that America’s potential next black billionaire sports figure is not immune to America’s racist policies. Jackson said of a statement made by Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert that Gilbert’s,

“feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality.”

Gilbert’s crime was describing LeBron as “narcissistic” and displaying “cowardly behavior,” when LeBron very ceremoniously dissed the city of Cleveland. I don’t know if I agree with Gilbert that LeBron displayed cowardly behavior; however there is little doubt that LeBron is a narcissist.

Anybody witnessing the hoopla surrounding “Where will LeBron go?”, certainly saw LeBron’s ego in the display case—likely where he has pictured that “pending” NBA Championship trophy.  I know as I watched some of the theatrics around “Decision Day,” I couldn’t help but find myself hoping Miami would not win a championship during The LeBron Era. After all, LeBron was not demonstrating a real champion’s character.

The good citizens of Cleveland didn’t deserve to have their town and team torn down in the process of LeBron declaring himself Superman. Championships are won on the court, not on paper or in the minds of precocious twenty-something soon-to-be-billionaires with all the common sense of a person on Jackass.

There is at least one person who wanted a championship more than LeBron. His name is Dan Gilbert. He is the person investing his money and passion into what is more than just a paycheck or a trophy. People like Gilbert put their money where their mouths are, and not just for profit but for the pride of the community.

Winning is a metaphor for people like Gilbert.  It’s about identity. It defines them. The winners’ mentality, the American spirit. Frankly, it’s the air that they breathe.  The idea of taking a lackluster franchise to the pinnacle of success is what guys like Gilbert live for.

That is why Gilbert makes the perfect target for Jackson. A successful white capitalist! A man who actually has worked for a living, and not relied on the charity of others, like Jackson. And the two couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.

Gilbert credentials: He grew Rock Financial—a company he co-founded in 1985—into one of the largest independent mortgage companies in the country. The company went public in May of 1998. Just over a year later Intuit purchased Rock Financial, and the operation became what is now Quicken Loans.  In 2002, Gilbert bought his company back from Intuit, and he continues to serve as CEO.

Jesse Jackson’s credentials? Race-baiting for decades.

When Cleveland selected hometown hero LeBron James in the 2003 lottery, it was as if the basketball gods smiled on the franchise. Ohio’s native son was to bring the American spirit back to Cleveland. And in only a few short years, the Cavs were able to make it to the Finals. Like the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland likely would have won that championship, if only LeBron thought like Michael Jordan.

Jordan waited on the missing piece of the puzzle, Scottie Pippen.  Four championships later, Jordan is a household word, long after his departure from the NBA.  He will remain a basketball icon decades from now.

Here’s the wrap:

Last time I checked victims don’t make $14.1M a year—not that LeBron needed a salary with his $90M contract with Nike before he ever played an NBA game.

And if LeBron’s salary was slave wages, then can I be Gilbert’s next slave? It certainly pays better than being a ward of the government, the plight of many of LeBron’s young, black male contemporaries.

Gone are the days when sports franchises picked their players, and those players were part of the community for life.  Think Kareem, Magic, Bird, Russell. These days, it’s inevitable that you will eventually boo the guy you currently cheer loudly for, because he will be playing for your nemesis. That’s sports in the 21st Century.

But what hasn’t changed are the fans. Fans love their franchises, some fans being gluttons for punishment. Winning LeBron in the lottery was more than just a draft pick for Cleveland; it was nostalgia.  LeBron reminded people of the good ol’ days, when players understood that they were more than just a tool of the NBA. Players were family.

The fans may indeed have made LeBron a victim, a victim of a bygone era. But I say, Liberalism made LeBron a victim…a victim of LeBron.

That’s my rant!

© 2010 Kevin Jackson – The Black Sphere, LLC – All Rights Reserved


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