LeBron James called out NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson for using urban slang to describe his crew of hard legs.
It all started when Jackson commented on James’ Diva behavior in an interview with ESPN.
Jackson recalled a time when James asked his former team, the Miami Heat, to stay overnight in Cleveland during a road trip.
Jackson, 71, noted that James expected preferential treatment when he played for the Miami Heat.
He said James, 31, asked Heat coach Erik Spoelstra if the team could stay overnight in Cleveland so he could hang out with his mother and his homies.
Jackson said James’ inconsiderate request put Spoelstra in a bind.
“You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland,” Jackson said in the ESPN interview.
James, who isn’t used to being publicly rebuked, responded to Jackson’s criticism after team practice on Tuesday.
“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach …” James told a reporter.
Q: “Had respect?”
Q: “Until now?”
Then James accused Jackson of stereotyping his crew because they are black.
“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.'”
James added that he didn’t think Jackson would use the word “posse” to describe a white sports superstar and his crew.
Jackson’s friends and acquaintances were quick to defend him from accusations of racism.
“Posse is not a racist term, nor has anyone ever felt Phil Jackson is racist – other than that…” tweeted ESPN commentator Douglas Gottlieb.
NBA star Carmelo Anthony weighed in on the controversy.
“I wouldn’t never want to hear that word about me and — I don’t want to say my crew — but people I consider family and people I came up with, been through thick and thin with,” Anthony said after Tuesday’s practice. “I would want [them] to be called a tightly knit group or family.”
He added: “I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist or educated person to know what that means to us.”