Like his business associate Maverick Carter, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James took issue with comments New York Knicks president Phil Jackson made in a recent interview with ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan.
In the Q&A published Monday, Jackson talked about James' departure from the Miami Heat and the three-time champion's relationship with Heat president Pat Riley:
It had to hurt when they lost LeBron. That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. 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.
On Tuesday, James referred to his respect for Jackson in the past tense, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:
"If he says it out to the media, I can only imagine what he says when the camera is not on him," James also said, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday.
"I know Phil's in a position of power in our sport, but to criticize me and my guys over that is nonsense," James added, per Iannazzone.
James' statements came a day after Carter took umbrage with Jackson's word choice:
Carter clarified his comments in a subsequent tweet and said he wasn't calling Jackson a racist. Rather, he said Jackson's language was "disrespectful."
"It's the word 'posse' and the characterization I take offense to," Carter told McMenamin. "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 seemed to agree with that sentiment Tuesday.
"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," he said, per Sporting News' Jordan Heck. "It's not what I stand for. It's not what my family stands for. And I believe the only reason he used that word is because it's young African-Americans trying to make a difference."
NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson commented on Carter and business partner Rich Paul in a series of tweets, "Maverick Carter and Rich Paul have overdelivered not only to LeBron James but also to corporate america and the fans. Team LeBron ranks up there with Michael Jordan's team and my team in developing and creating business opportunities!"
Rachel Nichols of ESPN noted it's not the first time Jackson has used the word when describing James' associates:
James defended his friends and all of their work, per McMenamin:
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.'
Carmelo Anthony commented on James' comments Tuesday, telling reporters he thought "posse" was offensive. Anthony added he didn't believe Jackson meant any offense but that he didn't want to speak for him.
James and the Cavaliers will next face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7. The defending champions trounced New York 117-88 on opening night.