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New York Knicks president Phil Jackson's labeling of LeBron James' business associates as the three-time NBA champion's "posse" touched a nerve with James' camp on Monday.
"I don't care that he talks about LeBron," Maverick Carter told ESPN.com. "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 partners 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."
Carter, a high school teammate of James', has been involved in James' business ventures for more than a decade. He comprises one part of LRMR, the management company founded by James, Carter, Rich Paul and Randy Mims in 2006 that guides the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar's career on and off the court.
Jackson, in an ESPN.com interview with Jackie MacMullan, made the statement while revisiting James' departure from the Miami Heat in the summer of 2014 and what it meant for the tenure of Heat president Pat Riley.
"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 [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.
"I always thought Pat had this really nice vibe with his guys. But something happened there where it broke down. I do know LeBron likes special treatment. He needs things his way."
Carter, citing the recent debate around coded language, said he felt obligated to respond to Jackson's comment. He also tweeted his dismay with the article:
Later, Carter posted a second tweet to clarify that he wasn't referring to Jackson as racist.
James, 31, is widely considered to have the most successful off-court business enterprise by any athlete since Michael Jordan.
In the past several years, James' partnership with Carter has resulted in a lifetime contract extension with Nike estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion; the launch of the multimedia company "Uninterrupted"; profiting in the tens of millions after Beats, in which he was an equity stakeholder, sold to Apple for $3.2 billion; and the cultivation of "SpringHill Entertainment," a production company that has paired with Warner Bros. and created several television projects, including "The Wall," a high-stakes game show hosted by Chris Hardwick that will premiere on NBC next month.
Carter, 35, is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees the entertainment aspects of James' off-court interest. Paul, 34, is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and runs "Klutch Sports," the sports agency that represents not only James but also his teammates Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith and a score of other NBA players including Ben Simmons, the 2016 No. 1 NBA draft pick by Philadelphia. Mims, 41, is the executive administrator of player programs and logistics for the Cavs.
As for Jackson's claim of "special treatment" for James, the Heat did stay in Cleveland following their game against the Cavaliers once while James was a member of the Miami franchise in order to go as a team to his house for Thanksgiving dinner the next day.