Knicks president Phil Jackson must not have watched The Wire, or he'd know that if you come at the King, you best not miss.
Jackson offended Cavaliers star LeBron James with a comment he made to ESPN that characterized James' associates as a "posse." Here's the full quote.
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.
Maverick Carter, James' longtime friend and business partner, responded first on Monday.
Let me be clear I'm not saying @PhilJackson11 is racist,, I'm calling out his disrespectful language— Maverick Carter (@mavcarter) November 15, 2016
"I don't care that he talks about LeBron. [Jackson] could say he's not that good or the greatest in the world as a basketball player. I wouldn't care," Carter told ESPN.
"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."
James himself reacted to the "posse" comment in similar fashion Tuesday. He gave extensive comments to ESPN linking the term to dismissive attitudes about young black men. Two excerpts:
"It just sucks that now at this point having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter, that's done so many great business [deals], that the title for young African-Americans is the word 'posse.'"
"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," James said. "It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference."
The full comments are worth a read, time allowing.
Carmelo Anthony, star of Jackson's Knicks and longtime friend of James, chimed in on the conversation Tuesday.
Carmelo on 'posse': "I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand kind of what that means to us." pic.twitter.com/yXQ9xa0NDZ— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) November 15, 2016
Anthony more or less sides with James, agreeing that "posse" can sound offensive, though he stopped short of speculating about Jackson's intent.
To my mind, Anthony's most interesting point is about Jackson needling James in November. Why would the president of a 4-6 team antagonize the leader of an 8-1 team in the Eastern Conference, fresh off a championship, and favored heavily to win the conference again?
It makes no sense to give the Cavaliers any extra motivation. Regardless of whether Jackson anticipated James would be offended by the word "posse," he should have known that no one takes kindly to being describes as bratty or high mantenance.