LeBron James recently let it be known that he has lost all respect for Phil Jackson, after the president of the New York Knicks characterized his business partners as a “posse” during an interview with ESPN. The Cleveland Cavaliers MVP’s business partners include Maverick Carter, James’ longtime friend and business manager from Akron, Ohio, who is responsible for overseeing the entertainment aspects of his off-court interests. Carter was behind James’ billion-dollar Nike contract, which reportedly is the largest celebrity apparel deal to date. Carter and James also are the producers of the CNBC reality business competition show Cleveland Hustles, hosted by award-winning marketing executive Bonin Bough, where entrepreneurs vie for funding.
“I’ve been in the league for 14 years, and from the beginning, two years in, I felt like I wanted to put my guys in positions of power, give those guys an opportunity to better themselves,” James says of the incident, according to ABC. “You know, in the beginning, we were highly criticized—and I was highly criticized—about what I wanted to do to help some guys around me become very successful in business,” he continues.
Carter took to Twitter to take Jackson to task:
— Maverick Carter (@mavcarter) November 14, 2016
Other lifelong friends and business associates are James’ sports agent Rich Paul, who runs the Klutch Sports Group, which counts many other NBA players as clients, and Randy Mims, who is the executive administrator of player programs and logistics for the Cavs.
Bryant Gumbel Calls Out Disrespectful Broadcasters
During closing commentary on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the host also took issue with Jackson’s comments, and expressed his support of James’s reaction for calling attention to the way in which language is used to disrespect and devalue people of color.
“Predictably, racial apologists have cried foul on James, but LeBron is merely citing part of a race-based code that’s all too commonplace in sports—one that leaves some words unspoken but well understood,” Gumbel says.
A “posse” is a group of men, typically armed, that are assembled to assist in law enforcement. But, it’s not just about the word itself. Gumbel went on to say, “We’ve long watched and listened as broadcasters have routinely characterized black players as born athletes, and their white teammates as hard workers. We know what they mean when they fault end zone dances, but applaud Lambeau leaps; when they label Beckham ‘a showboat,’ but say Gronkowski’s ‘colorful’; or when they’re calling some guys in a fight ‘scrappers’ and others ‘thugs.’ ”
Gumble also points out that “the usual assortment of critics and bigots will, no doubt, claim these are inflated complaints born of political correctness. But, since when does one group get to define another’s level of offense? We’re coming off of a bitter election, in which hurtful words ultimately did not matter, and maybe they didn’t because too many have become accepting of the ignorant stereotypes that words help create and reinforce. Maybe it’s time we thought more, not less, about the language that’s used, and call people out when it’s abused. LeBron’s going to ring up a lot of points this year, but in my book, none [are] more important than the one he scored last week.”