LeBron James takes Phil Jackson to task for ‘posse’ comments

Consider this bridge burned.

A day after Phil Jackson called out LeBron James in a Q&A with ESPN.com, the Cavaliers star and three-time NBA champion told reporters in Cleveland he’s lost respect for the Knicks president.

In particular, James took offense to Jackson using the word “posse” to describe his friends and associates. Jackson also told ESPN that James “likes special treatment.”

Jackson was at Knicks practice in Westchester on Tuesday, watching Kristaps Porzingis shoot free throws after the session ended. But as soon as Jeff Hornacek started addressing the media, Jackson scooted out of the gym, leaving Carmelo Anthony to answer for the firestorm he created.

Naturally, Anthony seemed fed up.

“There’s different words that different people use in different ways. To some people, the word ‘posse’ might not mean anything. It might just be a word. To some other people, it could be a derogatory statement. It all depends on who you mention it to, who you’re talking about,” Anthony said. “In this sense, he was talking about five black men. And do I think he meant it in any kind of way? I really don’t know. I don’t think he did. I would hope that he didn’t. Sometimes Phil just say things, and he say the first thing that come to mind. And he’s probably in his office right now regretting it.

“When it comes to Phil, you just never know what’s going to be said, what’s coming out. It depends on who’s listening. People take it the right way or people take it the wrong way. You just never know when it comes to Phil. I just don’t understand him talking about LeBron right now in November. I don’t understand that.”

Anthony perceives the word “posse” as having racial undertones and understands why James, his good friend, would be insulted by the phrasing.

“I would never want to hear that word about people I consider family and people that I’ve come up with and been through thick and thin with,” Anthony said. “I would want to be called a tight-knit group or a family, because that’s what I consider those people.”

“I know him personally,” Anthony said of James. “I know him very well. So for him to say that, whatever he said, whether he lost respect for somebody or not, he really means that. I know him. I don’t think he would just say something. Whatever was said, I’m pretty sure it hit home and he responded to it.”

For Anthony, it’s not hard to grasp that posse is offensive to some individuals.

“I think anybody would understand that. Anybody,” he said. “I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand what that means to us.”

In Cleveland, James gave a pointed and direct response to Jackson. In a video on the Cavaliers’ official website, James appears disrespected and angered by the situation.

“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. It’s not what I stand for,” James said. “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.”

Earlier in the press conference, James made it clear he no longer wants to be associated with Jackson.

Phil Jackson takes an unnescessary potshot at LeBron James in an interview with ESPN.

Phil Jackson takes an unnescessary potshot at LeBron James in an interview with ESPN.

(Frank Franklin II/AP)

When asked if he has any relationship with Jackson, James said, “Zero. No relationship at all.”

“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do. Obviously he was at the helm of one of my favorite players of all time, MJ,” James continued. “But I’ve got nothing for him.”

“You said you had respect for him?” a reporter asked James.

“Yeah,” James responded.

“Up until…” a reporter followed up.

“Yeah,” James said, cutting off the question.

All the animosity started with the Q&A, which included Jackson’s first public comments in months. Jackson ripped players and coaches across the league, while his Knicks team sits below .500.

Carmelo Anthony said he didn't know why Jackson decided to bring up LeBron at this point in the season.

Carmelo Anthony said he didn’t know why Jackson decided to bring up LeBron at this point in the season.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In the Q&A, Jackson was asked about James leaving Pat Riley and the Heat in the summer of 2014 to rejoin his hometown Cavaliers. Jackson told a story of a night in which Miami played the Cavaliers, and LeBron, then a member of the Heat, wanted to spend the night in Cleveland.

“They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t. So now (coach Erik) Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, ‘What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, ‘You are on the plane, you are with this team,'” Jackson said, recalling the situation. “You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”

The word “posse” caused a stir after the Q&A was published, largely because of the racial coding Anthony himself acknowledged Tuesday. James’ business partner and childhood friend Maverick Carter voiced his displeasure with the phrasing Monday on Twitter.

“All the hard work, effort and achievement and @PhilJackson11 still calls us a ‘posse,'” read the tweet, which also included a screenshot of the definition of posse. “Every step you take they remind you, you ghetto.”

In 2012, James founded the LRMR Management Company with Carter, Rich Paul (his agent) and Randy Mims, his childhood friends. James takes pride in what he’s accomplished with the business venture and said he doesn’t need validation from Jackson, who’s failed to build a winning franchise in New York during his time as a Knicks executive.

“It just shows how far we still have to go. But it won’t stop us from doing what we need to do as a group,” James said. “I’ve put together a great team. I’ve empowered some guys since I was a kid and we’ve all grown together and become (some) of the people they try to model after. So we’re not going to let Phil Jackson’s comments stop us from doing what we need to do. It just gives us extra motivation. It’s just still sad, though, to see that people at the top always want to try to put guys in power down.

“It’s not surprising. If he says it out to the media, I can only imagine what he says when the camera is not on him or the headset is not on. …He’s got a lot more work to do.”

Tags:
nba
new york knicks
cleveland cavaliers
lebron james
phil jackson
carmelo anthony

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