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Jesse Jackson says Cavaliers' owner views LeBron James as 'runaway slave'

July 12, 2010 |  1:19 pm

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert made some pretty harsh statements in the aftermath of LeBron James' nationally televised announcement of his decision to leave Cleveland and play for the Miami Heat.

Now Gilbert is on the receiving end on some pretty harsh criticism himself.

Jackson_200 Jesse Jackson criticized Gilbert on Sunday in a news release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The reverend said Gilbert views James as a "runaway slave" and that the owner's comments put the player in danger.

"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers," Jackson said in the statement. "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."

Shortly after James announced his decision Thursday night, Gilbert posted an angry open letter to Cleveland's fans and later told the Associated Press that he believes James quit during a handful of Cavaliers playoff games.

Jackson said Gilbert's comments were "mean, arrogant and presumptuous" and are an attack on all NBA players.

-- Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Jesse Jackson at the 12th Keepers of the Dream Awards in New York in April. Credit: Jemal Countess / Getty Images

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