Earlier this week, Phil Jackson described the friends and associates of LeBron James as a “posse.” Understandably, LeBron James was offended by those comments. Surprisingly enough, one of Jackson’s “employees” in Carmelo Anthony is taking James’ side.
It’s not easy to understand why James was mad. After all, his business associate Maverick Carter explained why he should be in one tweet.
— Maverick Carter (@mavcarter) November 14, 2016
“No relationship at all. I had nothing but respect for [Jackson] as a coach for what he was able to do,” James said. “Obviously he was at the helm of (the team featuring) my favorite player of all time, (Michael Jordan), and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him.”
For reference, here’s what Jackson said specifically that set off LeBron.
“It had to hurt when they lost LeBron,” Jackson said. “That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland, and he wanted to spend the night. 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.’ You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”
James responded with strong comments, including some on how he didn’t think Jackson would use the word “posse” to describe a big named sports figure who isn’t African-American.
“We see the success that we have, but then there is always someone that lets you know still how far we still have to go as African-Americans,” James said. “I don’t believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else and working with another team. Or if he was working with anybody in sports that was owning a team that wasn’t African-American and had a group of guys around [him and] didn’t agree with what they did, I don’t think he would have called them a posse.”
“But it just shows how far we have to go. But it won’t stop us from doing what we need to do as a group. 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 one of the people that 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. But it’s still sad, though, to see that people at the top always want to try to put guys in power down.”
On Tuesday, fellow NBA star and current New York Knick Carmelo Anthony took James’ side.
“I would never want to hear that word about me and my — I don’t want to say crew — but people that I consider family or people that I come up (with), been through thick and thin with,” Anthony said. “I’d want to be called a tight-knit group or family. That’s what I consider those close people to me.
“I think everybody would understand [why the term is offensive]. I don’t think you would have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand what that means to us.”
Carmelo said he hadn’t read Jackson’s comments on LeBron in the original Q&A, however he was “briefed” on the matter before he spoke with the media Tuesday.
Anthony went on to say a lot more about Jackson, the situation, and really took the opportunity to speak his mind.
“I know him and I don’t think he would just say something to be saying it,” Anthony said of his good friend James. “Whatever was said, I’m pretty sure it hit home and he responded to it. I don’t know exactly what was said.”
Anthony also added he didn’t think Jackson meant to use the word “posse” in a racial connotation, but also that he couldn’t speak for Jackson. He said “posse” means different things for different people, so for Jackson it might not have been used in a negative way that Carter and James might have interpreted it.
“In this sense [Jackson] was talking about four, five black men. 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 says the first thing that comes to mind,” Anthony said. “Probably he’s in his office right now regretting it. With Phil, you never know what’s going to be said, what’s coming, and depending on who’s listening. People take it the right way and people take it the wrong way. I just don’t understand him talking about LeBron right now in November.”
The last sentence is a good point. The Knicks opened up the season against the Cavaliers back on October 25th, but haven’t faced them since. New York and Cleveland are slated to face off at Madison Square Garden next on December 7th.