BOSTON -- Include Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant as another high-profile player who didn’t approve of Phil Jackson’s use of the word “posse” when describing the business partners of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.
“I see why LeBron took offense to it,” Durant told ESPN. “He doesn’t just work on the basketball court; he puts his work in [off of it, as well]. He’s trying to set himself, his kids, his kid’s kids up forever. So doing it for 10-plus years, to not associate what he’s done with being an empire, I understand why he took offense to it.”
Jackson made the statement during an ESPN Q&A with Jackie MacMullan in an attempt to dissect what might have led James to leave the Miami Heat to return to the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014. James said he lost all respect for the "Zen Master" after hearing about Jackson's comment.
Childhood friends Maverick Carter and Rich Paul serve as James’ business manager and sports agent, respectively. Carter takes care of James’ off-the-court ventures, while Paul represents James as his agent via his company Klutch Sports Group, which also represents Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons, Washington Wizards All-Star John Wall, and Cavaliers players J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, among others.
James and his successful business associates believe “posse” has a negative connotation toward young African-Americans.
“I don’t think Phil is racist,” Durant said to ESPN. “I think he just used a bad word; and he shouldn’t be talking about other players, anyway, on another team. But I don’t think Phil -- I don’t think he meant it in a bad way, but it sounds like a downgrade to what they really are. I understand why [LeBron] was upset.”
Durant said there are a number of ways of empowering those close to you, but he also said he believes it’s important to provide opportunities to those capable of doing the job.
“That’s what leaders do. You put people in position to be successful, whether that’s on the basketball court or off the court,” Durant said. “So the people I really care about -- whether it’s my mom going out and telling her story to other single moms and helping them; my godfather who raised me and taught me how to play the game of basketball and running my AAU program and impacting lives in my neighborhood; and my dad [being a] high school coach.
“So it doesn’t matter if it’s a top CEO of a corporate business, as long as you’re impacting the youth or impacting people, I think that’s putting them in position. One of my best friends [Charlie Bell] is starting his career off in sports management. So it’s just having that opportunity to know that you can be in this position, you can impact so many lives, and I think that’s the most important part.”