Phil Jackson stays silent in wake of LeBron criticism, save for one odd tweet

29 Comments

Phil Jackson started an NBA controversy when, in a wide-ranging interview with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, he described LeBron’s agent/business partners/long-time friends as his “posse.”

LeBron rightfully saw that as coded language demeaning those closest to him as nothing more than leeches — then he fired back, saying he had lost all respect for Jackson. LeBron’s business partner Maverick Carter took a shot at Jackson on Twitter. Even the Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony came to LeBron’s defense on this one.

Through all that, Jackson has remained silent. Well, except for retweeting this from Knicks vice president of player personnel Clarence Gaines Jr.

No doubt that’s a great organization. Let’s not pretend that’s what Jackson meant.

Jackson messed up with the comment, and he should come out and apologize. First off, spare me the “he meant posse in a good way” argument because that’s not true: Jackson said the same thing about LeBron’s inner circle in Jackson’s book “The Last Season,” and he made clear that he meant by posse the guys who bring the car around, go get the girls for the star, and clean up his messes.

That is a wild mischaracterization of Carter and LeBron’s agent Rich Paul. Those two set up a billion dollar shoe deal with Nike, they orchestrated LeBron’s return to Cleveland, they set up production company development deals that includes one with the NBC family, they have an office on the Warner Bros. lot. They are smart businessmen given an opportunity who studied, got prepared, then grabbed it.

Phil Jackson is not a classic racist, he’s spoken out against racism and taken steps for civil rights throughout his life. But he’s 71 and stuck in his ways — you can tell that by watching how he’s trying to build the Knicks. He’s from an era where agents and management companies — white guys in suits — controlled a players’ business affairs. He’s apparently not comfortable with the new reality of players taking control of their own brand and business futures. Not everybody has the friends around them who can take on those roles successfully, but LeBron does. Give him credit for giving those guys the opportunity, and credit to them for grabbing it.