Phil’s gone posse twice now. First time was back in 2004 in his book (The Last Season) when he described LeBron’s posse as possible girl-and-car fetchers and the second time was weeks ago when he quoted Pat Riley referring to James as having a posse.
LeBron should actually feel sorry for Phil. James has painstakingly built up a team of loyalists WHO ARE CAPABLE, which is more than Jackson has done with the Knicks. LeBron, himself, somehow thrived after humble beginnings of being raised by a 16-year-old mother. He has an identity as a hands-on benefactor to those less fortunate. Is Zen Master Phil Jackson playing a dummy on purpose in ignoring LeBron's past and present?
So LeBron panned Phil. Quite possibly he’s upset that non-African Americans might see his entourage as a bunch of goofs, rather than (and this is but another definition of posse) “a cluster of like-minded associates.” James, being in the NBA superstar spotlight for 14 years now, has to know people will think what they’re going to think. He’s got broad shoulders, should be no skin off his back...
James thinks the use of the word posse by Phil is racially charged.
LeBron added: “But it's still sad, though, to see that people at the top always want to try to put guys in power down." True or False? Could be both. For sure it’s a dog-eat-dog world at the top, but just as often as not those at the top form a buddy-huggy club intent on having familiar faces remain there, if only for convenience, comfort, and stability.
At any rate, Google’s not touching this posse predicament with a ten-foot pole. Googling: Superstar athletes and posses has the search engine suggesting “possess”, not “posse.”
But a search engine must give results - so the 1st answer talks of great athletes being fan favorites on social media with the 2nd dealing with high standards, what makes them tick, and the 3rd explaining “super focus.” To be charitable - Google has gone the ambivalent route.
Detroit Pistons coach, Stan Van Gundy, is leaning to the bastion of identity-politics while wantonly surrendering to the hot-air pressure barometer of hurt feelings - to dictate what words can be used, and when, and by who. He says because James is from a minority, and is offended by the term that folk’s like Phil, who is from a majority, uses – Phil has to retract. (For what it's worth, Stan liked Hillary Clinton.)
The impact of words, over time, have changed - as race, class, and gender have boiled their way to the top of the societal acceptance-and-awareness stew. Way back when - posse, as mentioned above, was associated with America’s west where the white sheriff, would gather up a posse of whites to capture criminals. Later - and it’s hard to say exactly how, when, where, and why - this came about, the word posse became associated with African Americans and their inner circle. LeBron’s right to be sensitive to this - for his loyalty to competent pals from his childhood is endearing. Indeed, he should be commended.
But should Jackson be condemned? Yes, the word was unfortunate, given that America’s racial fabric is seemingly coming apart at the seams, but LeBron, nevertheless, has to realize that everybody should be able to choose words they want to – so long as the word doesn’t have a singularly, universally understood connotation of racism, sexism etc - a word, that posse, in no way, has.
Perhaps recent-painful political sensitivities are impacting on LeBron’s reactions. He, like Stan, supported Hillary in the 2016 Presidential election – and to have - whom many view as a racist, white-guy Donald J. Trump - - - carousing around as the arousing triumphant troubadour Republican elephant - may be a sore point for he. Of course LeBron detractors (and there are many: remember when he was voted the most unpopular athlete years back for “The Decision” to bolt Cleveland for the sunnier climes of the Miami Heat?) would say if LeBron assumes that the word posse means gang, or thugs, or homies, that’s his problem – have a point.
Still, small wonder LeBron’s bent a bit out of shape on this. The guy, and this is just one example of his charitable deeds, is actively and financially working with poorer – yet hungry – in the good sense of that word - kids in Akron - - - to give them their chance at a post-secondary education.
He walks the walk when it comes to giving back to the community, not so much to burnish his image, but because he absolutely wants to build a sustainable platform from which kids can excel. Specifically, and graciously his foundation will spend 41 million+ to create scholarships for 1,100 of those Akron kids to go to the University of Akron for 4 years.
Probably LeBron should remind himself: Phil Jackson can be a jackass, is an equal opportunity offender and likes to poke bears in his spare time. When he mattered, Phil flam·béed Shaq, Kobe, Durant, and Nash.
So far, regarding posse-gate, Phil hasn’t backed down, nor should he. Granted, Phil and LeBron could get together and discuss diction, words, meaning, contexts, perceived slights – but any agreement, any grammatical gesture that came to be - would offend somebody, somewhere - so why bother?
Phil Jackson’s tenure as President of the NY Knicks has been terrible. LeBron James tenure as a NBA player has been terrific. But despite their widely divergent career paths, it is LeBron who needs to brush this off. Posse used, misconstrued, deemed as rude - or deemed a perfectly-suited word – IS NOTHING. Please get over this - lest we all lose like we did - with the TOTAL dicks - the NFL and Kaepernick.