Knicks president Phil Jackson's description of LeBron James' business partners as his "posse" in an interview published by ESPN on Monday drew an angry response from the Cavs star, who took offense at the racial connotation of the word.
The ESPN interview was a wide-ranging Q&A in which Jackson talked about the state of the Knicks, the criticism of his management of the team, and his relationship with Carmelo Anthony.James and Maverick Carter, his close friend and business partner, took offense at Jackson's description of the group of friends who travel and work with him as his "posse."Carter told ESPN.com he was bothered by what he perceived as racially coded language. James said he had lost respect for Jackson.
"We see the success that we have, but then there is always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans," James said. "I don't believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else and working with another team or if he was working with anybody in sports that was owning a team that wasn't African-American and had a group of guys around them that didn't agree with what they did. I don't think he would have called them a posse. But it just shows how far we have to go. But it won't stop us from doing what we need to do as a group."
James, Carter and two other high school friends, Rich Paul and Randy Mims, founded LRMR Management Co. a decade ago.
In the ESPN interview, Jackson, responding to a question about James' decision to leave the Heat, and whether he could imagine Magic Johnson leaving Pat Riley and the Lakers or Michael Jordan leaving Jackson and the Bulls, turned his response back around to James.
"When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night," Jackson told ESPN.com. "They don't do overnights. Teams just don't. So now (Heat 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."
Jackson did not respond Tuesday to James' remarks.
CAVS 121, RAPTORS 117: Host Cleveland matched the best start in franchise history after 10 games. The Cavaliers are 9-1 for the first time since 1976-77. Cavs guard J.R. Smith sat out with a sprained right ankle.