LeBron James didn’t mind his business associates being referred to as a “posse” this time.
Not in the context Jay Z used in introducing James as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year during a ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday night.
The rapper said of the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar: “He’s a dedicated family man who married his childhood sweetheart, Savannah, has three lovely children, the son who honors and worships his mother, Gloria, the friend who put his posse in position.”
Jay Z emphasized “posse,” and many members of the audience laughed at the use of the word. James can be seen saying, “Straight up!” in approval after the comment.
James and longtime business partner Maverick Carter didn’t feel the same way after New York Knicks President Phil Jackson used the same word during an ESPN interview last month.
“It’s the word ‘posse’ and the characterization I take offense to,” Carter said at the time. “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.”
Jackson told CBS Sports Network last week he should have chosen a different word when talking about James’ associates.
“The word itself carries connotation,” he said. “And I just don’t understand that part of it, the word. So I guess word choice could be something I could regret.”
Jay Z provided some context to the controversy with his comments on Monday.
“We know where we come from. We do understand where we come from,” he said. “The only difference between us and someone who has their MBA from Wharton or Sloan or Berkeley or Stanford is opportunity.
“LeBron James has provided his friends with that opportunity, and we’ve witnessed their development. And if we’re to look up at the scoreboard, very few businessmen are better than Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, Randy Mims and all the rest of the posse behind the scenes that make it look like they’re just hanging out.”
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