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LeBron James’ business partner, agent, and childhood friend Maverick Carter explained why he was offended when Phil Jackson referred to him as part of James’ “posse” in an interview with ESPN in November.
Jackson, while discussing an alleged incident when James wanted the Miami Heat to stay overnight in Cleveland in 2014, said he couldn’t hold up the team “because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”
Speaking at Business Insider’s IGNITION 2016 conference, Carter explained he was offended because in Jackson’s 2004 book “The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul,” Jackson referred to straight-from-high-school players like James as having posses that “fetch cars and get girls” for them.
Said Carter, “There’s a whole group of people like me, that are coming behind me, that need to be understood and respected and given a shot like I was given a shot.”
Carter said he doesn’t think Jackson’s comment was rooted in racism, but said, “In no way, shape, or form do I think it was racist at all. It was not racist at all. But it was undermining and demeaning and kind of pushing what we’ve done to the side.”
He continued, “It’s not going to change my outcome or my future or how people feel about me in the business world; I have enough of a reputation that I’m fine. But the people that are like me, that come behind me, I have a right to them to pay it forward to them, so I have to make sure that people know… you can’t just push people to the side because they’re young or they knew an NBA player, NFL player, and that was their entry into the business. You can’t just push those people aside.”
After Jackson’s initial comments, Carter reacted strongly, saying, “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.”
- Seth Wenig/AP
James also lashed out at Jackson, saying, he lost respect for Jackson and felt that Jackson wouldn’t have used the word “posse” if he was referring to a white man.
“I don’t believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else and working with another team,” James said. “Or if he was working with anybody in sports that was owning a team that wasn’t African-American and had a group of guys around [him and] didn’t agree with what they did, I don’t think he would have called them a posse. But it just shows how far we have to go.”
Jackson recently addressed the comments in an interview with CBS Sports, saying, “The obvious thing is, the word itself [“posse”] 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.”
When asked if he would meet with James to clear things up, Jackson said, “No, it’s water under the bridge. 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.”