Last night on Wednesday’s edition of “Primetime” on CNN, LeBron James told Soledad O’Brien that he thought race was a factorin the reaction to his decision to leave the Cleveland saying, “I think so, at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.” When asked to clarify his statement after Thursday morning’s practice session, LeBron said, “I’m not going to go back on my words. I think people are looking too into it.”
When I read this statement I wanted to scream into the computer screen. Of course race played a role in the backlash that he received over his decision to leave. Don’t get me wrong, there were people of all races who were genuinely disappointed in his decision. I am inclined to believe that the majority of these people were fans and had no financial bearings into Lebron, For those who did have something more to loose from Lebron leaving; I think that several things played a role in their disappointment and attacks on Lebron.
One being that anytime companies have a winning product that is bringing in large amounts of money to them; they will do what it takes in an effort to try to keep it. Even if that means attempting to “break down” that commodity, whether it is done emotionally, financially, morally etc.. In this way, the Cavaliers owners were connected to Lebron as a commodity and wanted to keep him. That is a natural response and I don’t blame them for that.
However, there is the race issue that James mentioned. I think that race played a role in the reaction of the owners to James leaving. Their behavior border lined on being unprofessional and tyrannical. This is when the metaphor of the slave and master relationship can be applied. At certain times you would think that these people, the owners, managers, thought that they somehow were in possession of James for a life time contract. As if he was one of their hardest working slaves who escaped the plantation for a “better” life and they were bitter about it. This weird, unhealthy, reaction to his leaving is what I think James is referring to when he mentions that he feels as though racism played a role in the backlash he received. These people really did on some level, think that they owned him; like he was a work horse or the big strong dumb slave that is able to do the most physical labor on the plantation. “Now who is going to lift these here wood barrels if you leave boy? Who told you to start thinking for yourself boy!” If they did not subconsciously believe that then they sure reacted that way in some of the unprofessional comments and rants they made about and towards James sense his departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers. For instance comments were made by Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s letter stating that James “deserted them” and he “betrayed them”. The kicker was the closing statement saying that, they did not “deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.” So yes, in this way, I do think that some lines were crossed and it was partly due to race.
The wording in the letter and response overall from the owners and the coach reflected a work relationship where the owner and managers did not respect their top player and his right to make the decisions that benefit his career and life but rather treated him as a prized ox that fled the farm.
Quotes Via: YBF
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