Sports

It’s LeBron vs Phil Jackson in “Posse-gate”

lj1New York Knicks General Manger Phil Jackson has insulted the King. In what was clearly a poor choice of words, Phil referred to Lebron’s friends as a ‘posse’ when describing the group wanting to stay an extra night in Cleveland during a Miami Heat road trip.

“When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night,” the Knicks president told ESPN as part of a wide-ranging Q&A published Monday. “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.”

The comment infuriated James:

“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach,’’ James said Tuesday after practice, according to a report.

“Had respect?’’ he was asked.

Until now? “Yeah.’’

jp“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.”

James and his associates deemed the word choice racially charged.

“It just sucks that now at this point, having one of the biggest businesses you can have on and off the floor and having a certified agent in Rich Paul and Maverick Carter, that’s done so many great business things, the title for African-Americans is the word ‘posse,’” James said.

“For me, we see the success we have. Then there’s always someone to let us know we still have far to go as African-Americans. … I don’t think Phil Jackson would still use that same term if he was doing business with someone else, working with anyone in sports that wasn’t African-American, a guy that owned a team that surrounded himself with people he didn’t agree with, I don’t think he’d call them a posse. … We’re not going to let Phil Jackson’s comments stop us from what we’re trying to do. It’s just sad.”

Knicks president Phil Jackson subtly responded on Twitter to “Posse-gate,’’ attempting to defuse the word’s racial connotations rather than apologizing for offending LeBron James’ management group.

Jackson retweeted a post multicultural educational entity called “Posse Foundation” and sharing the link to its website.

The Posse Foundation website states it “has identified, recruited and trained 6,993 public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential to become Posse Scholars. Since 1989, these students—many of whom might have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes—have been receiving four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner institutions of higher education.”

Jackson would not talk to reporters at practice Tuesday as he walked around the court, whispering things in a few players’ ears. It should be noted Jackson’s two most trusted advisers with the Knicks are Gaines and GM Steve Mills, both of whom are African-American.

“I know Phil Jackson, he’s a good man,” Magic Johnson tweeted Wednesday, praising James’ business team while saying Jackson made a small mistake in word choice. “I don’t think he meant to disrespect LeBron James and his team.”

Source: ESPN, New York Daily News

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