Former NBA coach and current New York Knicks president Phil Jackson courted controversy this week when he called Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and the people he travels with a "posse" in an ESPN interview. One of his critics, TV presenter and former NFL player Shannon Sharpe, highlighted Jackson’s previous use of the term and its anti-Black undertones on his Fox Sports show, "Skip and Shannon: Undisputed," yesterday (November 16).
Sharpe highlighted a quote from Jackson’s 2004 book, "The Last Season: A Team in Search of its Soul," in which he criticized the then-19-year-old James’ presence in the NBA and referred to the "posses" of young NBA players who handle their affairs and allegedly stunt their maturity.
"That just goes to show, no matter how high you go, they still see you in that light," said Sharpe. "I’m not saying Phil Jackson’s a racist, I’m just saying how he views people. … After all of what LeBron has done, after all of what he’s done, to what [James’ agent Rich Paul and business partner Maverick Carter have] been able to accomplish, Phil Jackson sees those young, successful Black men in the very same light he saw them in 2004."
James affirmed that he lost respect for Jackson to assembled media in Cleveland on Tuesday (November 15). "We see the success that we have, but then there is always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African Americans," he said. "I don’t believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else and working with another team or if he was working with anybody in sports that was owning a team that wasn’t African-American and had a group of guys around them that didn’t agree with what they did."