Phil Jackson set a new world record this week for alienating NBA superstars. And to think that James Dolan hired Phil with the understanding that the Zen Master would recruit the league’s top talent to Madison Square Garden.
Instead, Phil comes across like a basketball version of Donald Trump with his free-flowing, occasionally nutty and insulting rhetoric. As expected, there was more fallout on Tuesday from an ESPN interview that included Jackson referring to LeBron James’ long-time friends and business partners as a “posse.”
That didn’t go over well in Cleveland with LeBron and his pals. Let’s just say the wild fantasy about LeBron ever joining the Knicks is now officially over. At least for as long as Phil is in charge.
“To use that label, and if you go and read the definition of what the word ‘posse’ is, it’s not what I’ve built over my career,” James told reporters in Cleveland. “It’s not what I stand for. It’s not what my family stands for. And I believe the only reason he used that word is because it’s young African-Americans trying to make a difference.”
The wild fantasy about LeBron James ever joining the Knicks is now officially over, so long as Phil Jackson is connected to the team.
Carmelo Anthony, who rarely agrees with Jackson on anything, was angry with Phil’s choice of words and also confused to why the president of the Knicks would be discussing LeBron.
“I would never want to hear that word about me and – I don’t want to say my crew — but people I consider family and people I came up with, been through thick and thin with,’’ Anthony said after Tuesday’s practice. “I would want (them) to be called a tightly knit group or family. That’s what I consider those close people.
“Anybody would understand that,’’ Anthony, who has a no-trade clause, said on why “posse’’ is offensive. “I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist or educated person to know what that means to us.”
If you judge Jackson on his record – his first head coaching hire was an African-American, Derek Fisher – I don’t believe for one second that Phil meant for his words to be insensitive or racially charged. That’s not Phil.
But I also don’t blame LeBron for being upset. Phil’s comments come across as dismissive, as if LeBron and his buddies opened a sports bar in Akron as opposed to building an empire.
Carmelo Anthony, who rarely agrees with Jackson on anything, was angry with Phil Jackson’s choice of words and also confused to why the president of the Knicks would be discussing LeBron.
LeBron is no longer a teenage prodigy hanging out with his high school friends after a game. He’s evolved a bit. Over the span of six days last week, LeBron campaigned with Hillary Clinton in Ohio and then met with President Obama at the White House. He’s a man of considerable clout. Dismissing LeBron and his childhood friends and business partners as a “posse” was never going to go over well.
In a week that saw white NBA head coaches Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy and Steve Kerr denounce last week’s election results, Phil sounds like your crazy uncle who is out of touch in a league whose players are predominantly African-American. No, Phil did not commit the crime of the century. But this latest self-inflicted controversy further damages Phil’s reputation as an executive and ultimately hurts the Knicks.
With the exception of drafting Kristaps Porzingis, Phil’s run in New York has mostly been defined by failure. Just look at the record. And moments like this, a stream of consciousness interview that angers not just LeBron, the best player in the league, but also Carmelo, the most respected player in the Knicks locker room, don’t help. Phil was supposed to bring stability and credibility back to the Garden. He hasn’t done that. Nor does he inspire confidence. If anything his actions and words confirm everyone’s worst fears: that James Dolan may have made a huge mistake.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News