Basketball: LeBron James takes umbrage at 'posse' description

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for position with DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors.
LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for position with DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK • Phil Jackson's description of LeBron James' business partners as his "posse" in an interview published by ESPN on Monday drew an angry response from James, who took offence at the racial connotation of the word.

The dispute between Jackson, the New York Knicks' president, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' James, also left Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks in the uncomfortable position of having to answer questions about a sudden feud involving one of his bosses and one of his good friends.

In the interview, Jackson, 71, talked about the state of the Knicks, the criticism of his management of the team, and his relationship with Anthony.

CENTRED ON ONE WORD

Just because you're young and black, (that does not mean) he can use that word. We're grown men.

MAVERICK CARTER, friend and business partner of LeBron James, offended by Phil Jackson's use of the word "posse".

But James took exception to Jackson's description of the group of friends who travel and work with him as his "posse".

While posse is defined as a group of friends or associates, the cultural definition of the word has shifted towards defining drug cartels or, in contemporary cultural terms, the group of hangers-on that surround a celebrity.

James and Maverick Carter, his close friend and business partner, were both upset at Jackson's use of the term.

Carter told ESPN.com: "Just because you're young and black, (that does not mean) he can use that word. We're grown men."

James said he had lost respect for Jackson after the comments. "I don't believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else or if he was working with anybody in sports that was owning a team that wasn't African-American."

Jackson was also asked about James' decision to leave the Miami Heat and responded by describing James as a high-maintenance player who likes to get preferential treatment on road trips.

"When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night," Jackson said.

"They don't do overnights. Teams just don't. You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mum and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland."

Knicks forward Anthony agreed that he considered "posse" a loaded term, and said that he would not want his group of friends or family to be referred to in that way. However, he declined to ascribe any assumptions or intent to Jackson.

"Do I think he meant it any kind of way?" Anthony said. "I really don't know. I don't think he did. I would hope that he didn't."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2016, with the headline 'James takes umbrage at 'posse' description'. Print Edition | Subscribe