OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Uncomfortable in the King's Court

Uncomfortable in the King's Court

“You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”

Those are words spewed by the winningest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson. That above quote was spoken about the current top dog in the NBA, LeBron James. Now, let me add some context. Phil Jackson was speaking on the situation of LeBron, during his tenure in Miami, wanting to hold up a team plane to wait for his business partners and lifelong friends, one being Maverick Carter. The word “posse” in of itself is not a bad word, but given the context, it seems so very disrespectful and dismissive. Its well known that LeBron James has some business with Warren Buffett, a multibillionaire who happens to be white. Now, just for fun, let’s say LeBron would have asked to hold up the team plane for him. Would Phil have referred to Mr. Buffett as LeBron’s posse? I would bet my ashy life he would not have. And this is where it is a little troublesome. LeBron has turned himself and those closest to him into a damn near billion-dollar brand and it terrifies the shit out of GMs and league officials of the past. He has placed the power into the hands of the players, instead of the other way around (hence LeBron James and other star level players signing two-year deals to gain leverage). With extreme foresight, LeBron has strategically placed his closest friends around people who can teach them the ways of business and management in order to one day, lose the need to outsource those ideas and skills. They now get to keep the money and knowledge between themselves. LeBron and Maverick have their own agency for crying out loud. All of that scares the fuck out of Phil Jackson.

LeBron is extremely self-aware, very careful about what he says and how he says in case there is backlash. The fact he came out and said he has lost respect for Phil speaks volumes. The verbiage “I lose respect for...” is a bit arrogant, but his point is still valid. He has come from being that kid in the hood, to being one of the most business savvy professional athletes to ever walk this earth. The only term needed to refer to Bron’s friends is just that, “Friends.” I’m not calling Phil racist because I do not believe he is. To call him racist now diminishes the original point which is it was misguided and disrespectful. “Posse” has a negative connotation, usually thought of in the rap/hip hop world as the crew you roll with. Sure, I guess. I get some white people not understanding that Phil calling LeBron’s friends “posse” can be seen as a loaded term, fine. But don’t tell me how I should feel about it. When someone, or a group of African-American’s tells you “hey, I understand you don’t really get why, but it is.” listen to us. Approach it with an open mind and be willing to understand the point of view and work on correcting it. Because you cannot relate does not mean it is not a reality for a vast majority. Basically what I’m saying is on the surface, this is a very small problem. But when you dive deeper, Phil’s thinking is what I fear and what people like LeBron James fear most. No matter how we live our lives, we’re still a bunch of niggas to them.

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