• Chelsea Harmon

LeBron Loses Respect for Phil Jackson: ‘Posse’ Comment

LeBron James told reporters in Cleveland that he had lost respect for Phil Jackson after the basketball executive referred to his friends and associates as a ‘posse’ in a Q&A with ESPN.com. The NBA champion took offense to the insinuation of the term, telling reporters “to use that label, and if you go and read the definition of that the word ‘posse’ is, it not what I’ve build over my career,” James began, “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,” James said.

According to Dictionary.com the word ‘posse’ is a noun, defined as ‘a body or force armed with legal authority’ or ‘slang; a group of friends or associates’ while UrbanDictionary.com further explains the historical context the word was used for in their definition, “originally, a group of people (…) banded together for purposes of law enforcement (…). From “posse comitatus,” Latin for power of county.” Posse Comitatus is also the name of various white supremacist organizations that have appeared in the US over the years.” When a White person refers to a Black man and his friends/acquaintances as a ‘posse’ it’s a demeaning term, a nuance that has been lost on some however not forgotten by many.

Actress Gabrielle Union tweeted “Pls read the WHOLE article. @KingJames drops a lot of knowledge. Respect,” in response to the nonchalant response the NBA champion received on Twitter and childhood friend Maverick Carter also took to the social media platform to voice his disgust with Jackson’s choice of words tweeting “All the hard work, effort and achievement and @PhilJackson11 still calls us a ‘posse.’ Every step you take they remind you, you ghetto,” the tweet read.

James felt so slighted by Jackson’s use of the term that he reiterated his loss of respect for the former basketball coach.

“Had respect?” A reporter asked.

“Yeah.” James responded via Twitter.

“Until now?” The reported continued.

“Yeah.” James said.

(New York Daily News)

New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony defended James after Jackson abruptly left the Knicks practice in Westchester on Tuesday as coach Jeff Hornacek took questions from the media, "There's different words that different people use in different ways. To some people, the word ‘posse’ might not mean anything. It might just be a word. To some other people, it could be a derogatory statement. It all depends on who you mention it to, who you're talking about," Anthony said. "In this sense, he was talking about five black men. And do I think he meant it in any kind of way? I really don't know. I don't think he did. I would hope that he didn't. Sometimes Phil just says things, and he says the first thing that comes to mind. And he's probably in his office right now regretting it.” According to the Anthony, the word ‘posse’ has negative racial undertones and the fellow All-Star can understand why James was insulted. "I would never want to hear that word about people I consider family and people that I've come up with and been through thick and thin with," Anthony said. "I would want to be called a tight-knit group or a family, because that's what I consider those people.” (New York Daily News)

Racial sensitivity shouldn’t be mocked or degraded as trivial but rather understood and utilized to promote inclusiveness. This is a simple case of cultural ignorance and a perfect example of how toxic and profoundly hurtful, historically demoralizing language is. It is naïve to think that racial tension does not continue to persist in modern American society today, even at the highest levels of professional sports. Will Jackson apologize for his insensitivity? I doubt it but at the very least this story should raise awareness to those in all walks of life to be mindful of the words they use and how they can negatively impact those they come into contact with.

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