LeBron James has a close group of associates he keeps near him. Find someone with more than $100 million in the bank who doesn't -- go ahead, try it. But James' associates shouldn't be called a "posse," the hoops star says. And they wouldn't be called a "posse" if he wasn't African American, James contends. NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson, a white man who would seem to have pretty solid non-racist bona fides, referred to the James' inner circle as his "posse" during an ESPN interview. Talking about James' special treatment in the NBA, Jackson cited a time James allegedly asked that his Heat team make a stopover in Cleveland so he could spend some time at home. Jackson said critically:
"You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland."
James, who like many successful people has surrounded himself with a close circle of people he trusts, responded that Jackson chose "posse" because the word carries powerful racial baggage. (NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, for example, spent a career enduring racially tinted criticism for loyalty to his so-called "posse" -- childhood friends who came up with him and later made up his large payroll. Search "Iverson posse" for evidence.) As reported by the AP, James was saddened and angered by Jackson's "posse" characterization, saying "there is always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans." James further explained his resistance to having his associates characterized by the racially charged term "posse":
"I don't believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else... I don't think he would have called them a posse. But it just shows how far we have to go. But it won't stop us from doing what we need to do as a group."
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