Phil Jackson is in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his 11 titles he won coaching players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal when he was in charge of the Chicago Bulls and then the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James, the greatest player of his generation, possibly the only player whose name belongs anywhere near Jordan’s for the arbitrary title of “greatest ever,” knows what Jackson has accomplished.
“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach,” James said Tuesday after a Cleveland Cavaliers practice.
He had respect. But that, it seems is all in the past after Jackson, now-president of the New York Knicks, talked of the deterioration between James and Pat Riley and the Miami Heat in an interview with ESPN. Jackson said, “You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.” He also added, “I do know LeBron likes special treatment. He needs things his way.”
But it was the term “posse” that James was upset with, saying that there’s something behind that specific word, that “label,” according to James, “It’s not what I’ve built over my career.”
“I believe the only reason he used that word is because it’s young African-Americans trying to make a difference,” James said.
This isn’t the first time James and Jackson have had a public exchange. This past June, at an event that took place while James and the Cavaliers were battling back from losing the first two games against the Golden State Warriors, Jackson said that James was going to have to play like Jordan if his team was going to beat the team. James came back with, “I’m not Michael … I am who I am.” The Cavs would win the next game, lose the one after that and then battle back from a 3-1 deficit and capture Cleveland’s first professional title in decades.
But this, it seems, is a little more personal.
“It just sucks that now at this point, having one of the biggest businesses you can have on and off the floor and having a certified agent in Rich Paul and Maverick Carter, that’s done so many great business things, the title for African-Americans is the word ‘posse,'” James said.