New York Knicks president Phil Jackson said Tuesday that he doesn’t understand why LeBron James or his associates had a problem with him referring to the star’s business partners as a “posse.”
In his first comments about the controversy since using the term during an interview in November with ESPN, Jackson told CBS Sports that he doesn’t know the “connotation” of the word and added that he shouldn’t have talked about players on other teams.
“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.”
When asked if he would seek out James to apologize for the comment when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Knicks on Wednesday, Jackson said he wouldn’t because it’s no longer an issue.
“No, it's water under the bridge,” Jackson said. “I don't think there was anybody hurt or harmed in this situation. I think LeBron's friend obviously had an issue with it. So we just let it go. It's not enough to talk about it.”
James said Monday that he had no interest in discussing the issue with Jackson.
“For me, I've built my career on and off the floor on the utmost respect and I've always given the utmost respect to everyone — all my peers, people that's laid the path for me and laid the path for coaches, players, things of that nature,” James told reporters. “I've always given respect to them and it's always, like I told you before, it's always shade thrown on me.”
Maverick Carter, one of James’ business partners and childhood friends, took offense to Jackson’s use of “posse”, telling ESPN last month that it’s the “characterization” that bothered him.
“I don't care that he talks about LeBron,” Carter said. “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.”