LeBron James is one of the most marketable people on the planet right now, and while that’s due in large part to the fact that he’s one of the best basketball players of all time, the business team that he has surrounded himself with over the last decade has also played a big role in his success. LeBron and his longtime friends Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, and Randy Mims started a management company called LRMR back in 2006, and collectively, the four men have helped LeBron and all of the other athletes tied to the LRMR brand (Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Ben Simmons are just a few) land lucrative contracts with their teams and sign endorsement deals with companies.
At one time, people scoffed at the idea of LeBron allowing his friends to manage his business affairs off the court, but Carter, Paul, and Mims have all carved out their own niches in the sports industry and shown that they have what it takes to be successful in the business world. Carter is in charge of the entertainment side of LRMR, while Paul serves as an agent for a handful of professional athletes and Mims works as the executive administrator of player programs and logistics for the Cavaliers.
With all of that in mind, Carter took issue with some comments Phil Jackson made during a recent interview with ESPN. While speaking with Jackie MacMullan, Jackson talked about what it must have been like for Pat Riley when LeBron left the Heat for the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014 and made one specific comment that didn't sit well with Carter.
"It had to hurt when they lost LeBron," Jackson said. "That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland, and he wanted to spend the night. They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t. So now, [Heat coach Erik] Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, 'What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, 'You are on the plane. You are with this team.' You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland."
Carter didn’t seem to mind Jackson telling that story, but he did mind Jackson referring to LeBron, his mom, and his friends/business partners as his "posse." He expressed his anger with it by sending out this tweet on Monday night:
Carter also clarified his position on Twitter a short time later by sending out this:
And late Monday, Carter spoke with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin about why Jackson’s use of the word "posse" was so upsetting to him. He let it be known that he wasn’t upset with anything else that Jackson said, but he told McMenamin that Jackson’s decision to use "posse" made him angry.
"I don’t care that he talks about LeBron," Carter said. "He could say he’s not that good or the greatest in the world as a basketball player. I wouldn’t care. It’s the word 'posse' and the characterization I take offense to. If he would have said LeBron and his agent, LeBron and his business partner, or LeBron and his friends, that’s one thing. Yet, because you’re young and black, he can use that word. We’re grown men."
On Tuesday morning, LeBron was asked about Jackson, and he said that he doesn't have any type of relationship with him. "Zero. No relationship at all," he said. "I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do. Obviously he was at the helm of [the team featuring] my favorite player of all time, MJ, and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him."
LeBron also seemed just as upset about Jackson's "posse" comment as Carter was, as evidenced by this interaction he had with a reporter:
He talked about why that word struck a nerve. "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 said. "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. It just sucks that now at this point having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter, that's done so many great business [deals], that the title for young African-Americans is the word 'posse.'"
And he also said he doesn't think Jackson would have used the word "posse" if he were white. "For me, we see the success that we have, but then there is always someone that lets you know still how far we still have to go as African-Americans," he said. "I don't believe that Phil Jackson would have used that term if he was doing business with someone else and working with another team. Or if he was working with anybody in sports that was owning a team that wasn't African-American and had a group of guys around [him and] didn't agree with what they did, I don't think he would have called them a posse."
Jackson is yet to respond to any of this.