During an interview with ESPN in which Knicks president Phil Jackson criticized LeBron James’s alleged attitude of entitlement during his tenure with the Heat, Jackson at one point referred to James’s group of friends as a “posse.” Maverick Carter, James’s friend and business partner, did not like that.
Here’s Jackson’s original statement from Monday’s interview that Carter took issue with:
“It had to hurt when [the Heat] lost LeBron,” Jackson said. “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.”
Carter initially responded with a couple tweets critical of Jackson’s word usage:
Carter must not have noticed that he chose the historical definition of posse up there, nor that the word is hardly ever used in that fashion today, let alone in a racially coded manner, because he doubled down on his interpretation in his comments to ESPN today:
“I don’t care that he talks about LeBron,” Maverick Carter told ESPN.com. “He could say he’s not that good or the greatest in the world as a basketball player. I wouldn’t care. It’s the word ‘posse’ and the characterization I take offense to. If he would have said LeBron and his agent, LeBron and his business partners or LeBron and his friends, that’s one thing. Yet because you’re young and black, he can use that word. We’re grown men.”
Sure, “posse” does have a slightly more negative connotation than “friends” or even “entourage,” but it’s not like Jackson referred to James and his crew as a posse in the course of their business endeavors. He was talking about them wanting to hang out and party in their home city. Thus, we declare this a reach.
Update [11:55 p.m.]: And now comes LeBron himself with some comments on Jackson:
Correction: An earlier version of this post, including the headline, misidentified Carter as LeBron’s agent. Rich Paul is LeBron’s agent. Carter and LeBron co-founded the marketing agency LRMR. Sorry for the error.