CHICAGO - Jesse Jackson criticized Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert Sunday, saying Gilbert sees LeBron James as a "runaway slave" and that the owner's comments after the free agent decided to join the Heat put the player in danger.
He called James' decision "cowardly" and later told The Associated Press he believes James quit during a handful of Cavaliers playoff games.
"He has gotten a free pass," Gilbert told the AP in a phone interview late Thursday night. "People have covered up for [James] for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."
Jackson said Gilbert's comments were "mean, arrogant and presumptuous."
"Mr. Dan Gilbert's accusations . . . have legal and social implications for the league, its union and the character of LeBron James," Jackson said in a release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
"By saying he has gotten a free pass and that people have covered for him way too long, Gilbert suggests that LeBron has done something illegal or illicit. He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His feelings of betrayal personify a slave-master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave."
Jackson asked why, if Gilbert believes that LeBron intentionally quit, he offered him an additional $120 million to stay in Cleveland.
Messages were left last night seeking comment from Gilbert, the Cavaliers and James.
Jackson also called Gilbert's comments an attack on all NBA players and said the owner should face a "challenge" from the league and the union.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank declined comment.
Staff and wire reports
Farmar headed to Nets. Guard Jordan Farmar of the NBA champion Lakers has agreed to join the Nets. The NBA's worst team last season added a third low-profile free agent after failing to lure LeBron James, Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade.
The 6-2, 180-pound Farmar averaged 6.9 points and 2.1 assists in 18.1 minutes in four seasons with the Lakers. The agreement is contingent on Farmar's passing a physical.