Following the lead of his manager – Maverick Carter, who criticized Phil Jackson’s use of the word “posse” to describe LeBron James‘ friends and business partners – LeBron indicated he lost respect for the Knicks president.
The Cavaliers superstar elaborated why.
LeBron, via Rick Noland of The Chronicle:
“To use that label, if you go and read the definition of the word ‘posse,’ it’s not what I’ve built over my career,” James said Tuesday morning at a team shootaround prior to a game against the Toronto Raptors. “It’s not what I stand for. It’s not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African Americans trying to make a difference.”
“From the beginning, two years in, I felt like I wanted to put my guys in a position of power and give those guys an opportunity to better themselves,” 14th-year pro James said. “In the beginning, we were highly criticized and I was highly criticized about what I wanted to do to help some guys around me become very successful in business.
“It just sucks that now at this point, having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that’s done so many great business (deals), that the title for African Americans is the word ‘posse.'”
That left Knicks star Carmelo Anthony – who is a close friend of LeBron and has a complicated relationship with Jackson – to address the controversy.
I basically agree with Anthony here. I don’t know what Jackson meant, and I can’t read his mind. I tend to think Jackson didn’t intend to used coded racism to demean LeBron and his business partners and friends, but I don’t know.
Still, using code words to divide us by race, intentionally or not, is problematic. Yes, “posse” has benign definitions. The question: Would Jackson have used same term if LeBron and/or his business partners were white? Screaming “racist” as Jackson is not the answer. But neither is ignoring the division perpetuated by people who don’t consider the effects of their language.
On a smaller scale, Jackson putting his foot in his mouth only adds another misstep in his quest to fix the Knicks. You can see why that would bother Anthony, whose clock is ticking.