LeBron James: I had nothing but respect for Phil Jackson until now
LeBron James used to have respect for New York Knicks president and legendary former coach Phil Jackson, but that's in the past.
Asked about Jackson's recent comments that he and his “posse” require special treatment, James lashed out at Jackson on Tuesday.
LeBron James explained his problem with Phil Jackson's “posse” label referring to him and his business associates: “To use that label, and if you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career. It's not what I stand for. It's not what my family stands for. And I believe the only reason he used that word is because it's young African-Americans trying to make a difference.”
LeBron James on whether he has any relationship with Phil Jackson: “Zero. No relationship at all. I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do. Obviously he was at the helm of (the team featuring) my favorite player of all time, MJ, and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him.”
On Monday, LeBron's longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter also spoke out about Jackson's comments:
“I don't care that he talks about LeBron. 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.”
Carter, James, Rich Paul and Randy Mims founded the management company LRMR in 2006. Carter, who was a high school teammate of James at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, has helped guide LeBron’s career.
Regardless of any coding or connotation surrounding Jackson's comments — and I'm certainly not going to tell James or anyone else how they should feel — you can't blame James and his colleagues for being upset by Jackson's comments. A “posse” operates outside of the system; James is the system in a league where players have become more powerful than ever.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was asked about Jackson's comments at practice, and he posed the same question many Knicks fans are themselves considering — why exactly is Jackson talking about LeBron anyway?
“There's different words that different people use in different ways. To some people, the word 'posse' might not mean anything, but to some other people, it could be a derogatory statement. It all depends on who you're mentioning it to, who you're talking about, in that sense. In this sense, he was talking about five black men and their situation. Do I think he meant it any kind of way? I really don't know. I don't think he did. I would hope that he didn't.
“Sometimes Phil just says things and he says the first thing that comes to mind, and then probably is in his office right now regretting it. I don't know. When it comes to Phil, you just never know what's going to be said, what's coming out. It depends on who's listening. People take it the right way or people take it the wrong way. You just never know when it comes to Phil.
I just don't understand him talking about LeBron right now, in November. I just don't understand that.”
Jackson's comments originally came when the 11-time championship-winning coach was asked about how Pat Riley handled James' departure in 2014:
“It had to hurt when they 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.”
The Knicks host the Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7 — and just in case you're curious, James' career-high for scoring at MSG is 52 points, a mark he set back in 2009.
LeBron on Phil Jackson: "I had nothing but respect for him as a coach …"
Q: "Had respect?"
Q: "Until now?"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 15, 2016