The Cleveland Cavaliers (14-5) will take on the New York Knicks (12-9) at Madisn Square Garden on Wednesday, marking the first time these teams will have met since Phil Jackson’s infamous “posse” comment in November.
Jackson referred to James’ friends and business partners as a “posse,” which offended James.
“I think it will be sort of big news tonight in the Garden,” former NBA All-Star Grant Hill said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think it’s big news anytime LeBron James comes to New York and plays in the Garden. I know he has sort of circled this for a number of reasons, including, I’m sure, those comments. I think sometimes just sort of if you go back and sort of look or listen to Phil Jackson through the years, I think he sometimes says things that purposefully get under people’s skin. What he said, you want to give a guy like that the benefit of the doubt because of his track record particularly as a player and the things that he did with Bill Bradley and just sort of standing for injustice and so on. But I think it was offensive. And LeBron, using his platform and his voice, was able to come back and explain why he thought it was the case. Hopefully there’s some understanding (and) two legends of our sport are able to sort of see each other and at least apologize and move on.”
While the “posse” comment will get a lot of play leading up to the game, it likely won’t have much of an impact on the final result.
“LeBron James, look, he’s had some great moments in the Garden,” Hill said. “He doesn’t need Phil Jackson to get him riled up. He’s going to come out and want to play and put on a show and go against his good buddy, Carmelo Anthony, who has the team playing a little bit better now. So it’s always fun as a player, particularly a star player, when you go to the Garden. I’m sure LeBron James will be ready to go.”
Brian Jones, for one, was not offended by Jackson’s use of the word “posse.” Some people, however, were.
“You have to sort of look back at the different times he’s used that term,” Hill said of Jackson. “This is not the first time. From what I’ve read or heard, there was a book that Phil Jackson wrote and he kind of used that term in reference to LeBron and sort of started describing what that term was, and I think that was what came across as offensive, kind of marginalizing these guys. I know LeBron’s partners – friends who have really sort of evolved and developed into some great businessmen. Rich Paul, Maverick Carter – they’re friends of mine. I respect the value that they bring in their relationship and in their partnership and their relationship with LeBron. When you just refer to them as a posse and guys who are there to find women and sort of the stereotype and you classify them as that, I think that marginalizes and undervalues them. So I understand where LeBron is coming from and how he was offended. I also understand that maybe Phil Jackson maybe didn’t quite understand the meanings and just how offensive that was. If I had to side in this, I would probably side with LeBron. Everyone has their faults, as does LeBron. I’m not saying LeBron’s perfect. But I think he has tried to do the right thing and has proven successful with his business organization structure.”
Tip-off on Wednesday is at 8 p.m. ET.