New York Knicks president Phil Jackson visited CBS Sports Network's We Need To Talk on Tuesday, in an episode that will air at 6:30 p.m. ET. During the interview, Jackson gave his first public comments about his use of the word "posse" to describe LeBron James' associates, which angered the superstar and his business partner, Maverick Carter.
Lisa Leslie asked Jackson if he would like to take back what he said to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan about James, and what he would say differently if he could do it again.
"That's a topic I'm not going to discuss because, one, we're not supposed to discuss other team's players in this position that I have here," Jackson said. "So I violated one of the tenets of our thing. And the obvious thing is, the word itself carries connotation. And I just don't understand that part of it, the word. So I guess word choice could be something I could regret. But yeah, talking about other teams players, that's out of the box."
Leslie then asked Jackson if he wanted to meet with James and clear things up. James has said he does not plan to try to talk to Jackson.
"No, it's water under the bridge," Jackson said. "I don't think there was anybody hurt or harmed in this situation. I think LeBron's friend obviously had an issue with it. So we just let it go. It's not enough to talk about it."
Phil Jackson discusses his comments on LeBron James tonight at 6:30 ET on We Need To Talk. https://t.co/ZAW76mZqGG— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) December 6, 2016
Two points on this:
- In no way was this an apology. He did not say he regretted the sentiment, and he didn't even say that he regretted referring to James' business associates as a "posse" -- he said it's something he could regret. The takeaway is that he would preferred this hadn't become such a huge story, but he didn't understand at the time that he was saying something that could upset and offend people.
- It's interesting that Jackson invoked the "we're not supposed to discuss other players" line now, when it was convenient for him to do so. Previously, he has been known to go off on those kind of tangents regularly. If he really wanted to express remorse about what he said, he surely could have done so here, but he chose instead to deflect the question. It sounds like he thinks it just wasn't a big deal.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in New York. They will face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.