Last month, Phil Jackson referred to LeBron James’s group of friends as his “posse,” which angered both LeBron and his business partner and friend Maverick Carter. Both men took specific issue with Jackson’s use of the word and noted the perceived racial undertones of what Jackson said. Whether or not Jackson understood exactly how his words would offend, condescendingly referring to LeBron and his inner circle like a seedy entourage who just want to party is unfairly dismissive of an adult group of incredibly successful businessmen.
Jackson made his first public comments on the incident tonight and it’s clear that he took nothing from the disagreement. He went on CBS Sports’ We Need To Talk and said that he had no interest in meeting James and talking things over (a sentiment with which LeBron agrees). Jackson hid behind the rule regarding discussing other teams’ players, a rule which he eagerly violated to kick this whole kerfuffle off:
“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.”
Regardless of how Jackson intended his comments to be regarded, it’s extremely oily of him to contort himself to keep from addressing James’s points. Perception is more important than the dictionary definition of the word “posse” in this case, and hiding behind regulations and conditional apologies is more of the same aloof condescension that got him into this mess.