LeBron James says he's lost respect for Phil Jackson following 'posse' comment

LeBron James is not particularly happy with Phil Jackson. The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar told reporters on Tuesday that he has lost respect for the Hall of Fame coach and New York Knicks president because of Jackson's comments in an interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. Like James' business partner, Maverick Carter, he objected to Jackson using the word "posse" to describe James' associates.

You can watch James' media session on the Cavaliers' website. An excerpt:

I've been in this league 14 years and from the beginning, two years in, I felt like that I wanted to put my guys in a position of power and give those guys an opportunity to better themselves. And you know, 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. And, you know, it just sucks that now at this point, having one of the biggest businesses that you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that has done so many great businesses, that the title for young African-Americans is the word "posse." So, for me, we see the success that we had, but then there's always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans.

More, via ESPN:


And from the Sporting News:

"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. 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."

If you missed the start of this controversy, here's the part of the interview that irked James and Carter (emphasis added):

JM: It all started when LeBron left, right? Could you have ever imagined Earvin Johnson leaving Riley, or Michael Jordan leaving you?

PJ: It had to hurt when they lost LeBron. That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night. 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.

I always thought Pat had this really nice vibe with his guys. But something happened there where it broke down. I do know LeBron likes special treatment. He needs things his way.

LeBron James arrives at the arena in Philadelphia
LeBron James found Phil Jackson's comments disrespectful. USATSI

James has every right to be angry and every right to call Jackson out. At best, Jackson is being careless with his choice of words. At worst, he is using racially coded language to once again discredit James and his partners, who have been painted as amateurish at various points in his career. James clearly subscribes to the latter interpretation.

It's also worth noting that Jackson didn't pick the best example to illustrate his point about "special treatment." ESPN reported that, when James wanted to spend an extra night in Cleveland as a member of the Heat, it was so he could bring the whole team to his house for Thanksgiving dinner the next day.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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