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Stan Van Gundy: I’ve never used ‘posse’ for white players, and it’s not right


CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy

Jason Miller

Phil Jackson described LeBron James’ friends and business associates as LeBron’s “posse” – drawing objection from Maverick Carter, LeBron and Carmelo Anthony.


Because Jackson’s usage of the word matched its most common usage when describing people around an athlete or entertainer – to describe blacks disparagingly.

That doesn’t mean Jackson is racist. That doesn’t mean he intended to say something racist.

But when Jackson used a code word with such a loaded history, he – knowingly or unknowingly – perpetuated a stereotype that divides us by race. At that point, he had a few options:

1. Double down on his right to use the word. Whether it’s because he wants to perpetuate racist stereotypes, believes the word isn’t coded or refuses to relinquish the denotation to those who have added a connotation, Jackson has the right in a society that values free speech.

2. Change his language. Accept that, regardless of intent, “posse” is a code word and therefore has become unacceptable to him.

3. Engage in debate with critics – defending his word choice, challenging them to explain their view or both. Then circle back to No. 1 or No. 2.

Jackson made one odd retweet.

Pistons president/coach and unabashed opinion-haver Stan Van Gundy took another path.

Mike Vorkunov of The New York Times:

What a good and reasonable response.

Nobody should demand legal consequences for Jackson, and even workplace punishment seems overboard for the Knicks president here. But it’s reasonable to ask him to thoughtfully consider his word choice.

It’s reasonable for all of us to do that, just as Van Gundy – who wasn’t directly involved – did.