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Phil Jackson discusses “posse” comment about LeBron, doesn’t apologize

American Express Teams Up With Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson at the Altman Building In New York City

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06: American Express teams up with Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson (pictured) at the Altman Building on June 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express)

Getty Images for American Express

It all started when Phil Jackson referred to LeBron James’ business partners as his “posse.” LeBron’s friend and business manager Maverick Carter — the guy who orchestrated a billion dollar Nike deal and more — took offense to that comment, as did people such as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. It created a mini-storm about the implications of the word (many African-Americans saw it as derogatory), a debate which Jackson chose not to enter.

Until now. Sort of.

In an interview with Lisa Leslie on CBS Sports’ “We Need to Talk” Jackson gave a round about answer to whether he would like to take the use of that word back (hat tip James Herbert of CBS).

“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....

“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.”

Now he pulls out the “I can’t talk about other players” card? Gene Kelly is impressed with Jackson’s tap dancing on that one.

To be clear, “I guess word choice could be something I could regret” is not an apology. Again, reference Gene Kelly. I’d say it would be easy for Jackson to just say the words here and apologize, but he can be Trumpian that way.

“It’s not enough to talk about?” That would be your opinion, clearly LeBron — who said he lost respect for Jackson — Anthony and others disagree.

It’s all kind of moot now — it’s not like LeBron was going to be a Knick anyway — but the debate seemed to raise awareness about use of the word.