GREENBURGH, N.Y. — LeBron James fired back at Phil Jackson and said he lost all respect for him after the Knicks’ president referred to his friends and business partners as his “posse.”
Carmelo Anthony, who is close friends with James, said he wouldn’t want people closest to him referred to that way either. He also questioned why Jackson would be talking about James in November.
“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do at the helm,” James told reporters in Cleveland on Tuesday morning before the Cavaliers played the Raptors. “But I got none for him.”
In an interview with ESPN.com published Monday, Jackson said James likes to get special treatment, and brought up something that happened when he played for the Heat from 2010-14. Jackson said that James wanted to stay over after Miami played in Cleveland, where James is from. Jackson said, “You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”
James was upset with the word “posse” because of its negative connotation toward African-Americans. He said Jackson wouldn’t have used that word if he had an issue with a group of people who weren’t African-Americans.
“We see the success that we had but then it is always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans,” James said. “I just don’t believe that Phil Jackson would have used that same term if he was doing business with someone else working with another team, or anybody in sports that owns a team that wasn’t African-American and he had a group of guys around him that he didn’t agree with what they did. I don’t think he would have called them a posse.”
James’ longtime friends are his business partners in his LRMR marketing firm. His partners include Maverick Carter, Randy Mims and his agent Rich Paul — the founder of Klutch Sports Group.
“I know Phil’s in a position of power in our sport, but to criticize me and my guys over that is nonsense,” James said. “If he says it out to the media I can only imagine what he says when the camera is not on him.”
Jackson wasn’t made available by the Knicks to comment, and hasn’t spoken to reporters covering the team since September.
Anthony hadn’t read the interview but said he was briefed on it before he spoke to the media after practice on Tuesday. He wants to believe Jackson didn’t mean anything by the term “posse,” but he hadn’t spoken to him.
“I would never want to hear that word about people that I consider family or people that I come up and been through thick and thin with,” Anthony said. “I think everybody would understand. I don’t think you would have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand what that means to us.
“To some people, the word posse might not mean anything. To some other people it could be a derogatory statement. It all depends on who you mention it to and who you’re talking about in essence. In this sense he was talking about four, five black men. Do I think he meant it in any kind of way? I really don’t know. I don’t think he did. I would hope that he didn’t.”
Anthony didn’t understand why Jackson was even talking about James, since the Knicks don’t play the Cavaliers until Dec. 7 at Madison Square Garden. Jackson was asked about Heat president Pat Riley and that led to a question about James.
“Sometimes Phil just says things and he says the first thing that comes to mind,” Anthony said. “Probably he’s in his office right now regretting it. With Phil you never know what’s going to be said, what’s coming. I just don’t understand him talking about LeBron right now in November.”
Since Jackson was not made available, Anthony was forced to answer questions about the ESPN interview after Tuesday’s practice.
“We have to answer those questions,” Anthony said. “It’s kind of hard for me to have answers to something that I don’t know what’s going on. I just know what’s right and what’s wrong.”