Dave Zirin: LeBron James Doesn’t Deserve the Hate
I saw Dave Zirin at the last Wisconsin Book Festival (scroll down to the end). He’s an earnest, medium-sized sports journalist who has researched racism and economic issues in sport, and has his own blog, the Edge of Sports. He’s also the author of the books, What’s My Name, Fool? and A People’s History of Sports in the United States.
I saw his piece over at HuffPo, and I would tend to agree that all the hateration spattered at LeBron James is unjustified. As far as I am concerned, James gave seven years of his playing career to Cleveland; he wanted to go with a championship-bound team; and frankly, despite his best efforts, it didn’t happen there. That James did not first tell the Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, or management or Cleveland fans how he felt–that is, cushioned the blow–is the only thing that I would hold against him. But it shows increasingly bad grace from the Cavs and the fans to talk badly about the guy that put them on the map. Beyond what I mentioned before, LeBron James doesn’t owe them sh*t.
I doubt whether dwelling on the baby-daddy aspect of James’ leaving is worth talking about, except that this guy doesn’t deserve any mitts on James’ money, or acknowledgement of paternity, regardless of whether the DNA test proves him right. But, Dan Gilbert has the nerve to be spewing on LeBron James with what Zirin knows about Dan Gilbert (with paragraph separation provided):
Dan Gilbert needs to spare us the moral outrage. Forget about the fact that this is an utterly graceless, classless move given how much coin James has put in Gilbert’s pocket. Gilbert is the man known as “Subprime Dan,” the who made his millions as CEO of Quicken Loans, offering 0%, no money down mortgages to potential home buyers over the Internet. This kind of legalized loan sharking of course wrecked the US economy. But it didn’t wreck Gilbert. As foreclosures reached record highs in Cleveland, Quicken Loans reported that 2009-2010 has been their most profitable period in the company’s history.
Now while people throughout the state of Ohio have lost their homes and livelihoods at the altar of Quicken Loans, Gilbert has announced that he will be opening four casinos throughout the state. He also funded the referendums that secured his right to legalize gambling in the state. Anyone who has been to a casino in Detroit can predict what their Ohio variant will look like: working class families — black, brown, and white — dragging their kids to the bingo parlor and the penny slots hoping against hope they can raise enough to keep the bank from taking their home — perhaps even thanks to a subprime mortgage courtesy of Quicken Loans. The point here is an obvious one. If anyone has stabbed the people of Ohio in the back, it’s not LeBron James: it’s Dan Gilbert. And if we didn’t understand why LeBron would want to leave his home town of Cleveland yesterday, we certainly get it now. Talk about a bad sport.