INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James respected Phil Jackson's unmatched coaching accomplishments. That affection has vanished.
"I've got nothing for him," James said Tuesday.
James fired back at Jackson, the 11-time coaching champion and current New York Knicks president, for using the word "posse" in a recent interview to describe the NBA megastar's business associates. James said he lost all respect for Jackson and that his comments underscore a larger societal issue for young African-Americans trying to achieve success in the business world.
In the interview, Jackson said James has always demanded preferential treatment and called his departure from Miami as a free agent a "slap in the face" to the Heat organization. Jackson recalled a time when James asked for the team to stay over in Cleveland while on a road trip, a request that put coach Erik Spoelstra in a bind.
"You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland," Jackson said in the ESPN interview .
The word "posse" struck a chord with James, who has surrounded himself with childhood friends during his career.
"We see the success that we have, but then there is always someone that lets you know how far we still have to go as African-Americans," James said Tuesday following the Cavaliers' morning shootaround. "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 them that didn't agree with what they did.
"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."
Along with close friends Maverick Carter, Rich Paul and Randy Mims, James has built a sports business empire. Among the group's most prominent successes are landing James a lifetime contract with Nike worth nearly $1 billion and launching a film and TV production company that has partnered with Warner Bros.
Carter handles James' business affairs while Paul serves as his agent — and for several other top players — and Mims works with the Cavs. They formed LRMR marketing shortly after James turned pro, and the 31-year-old three-time champion was highly criticized for surrounding himself with friends.
They've thrived and James is proud of their accomplishments.
"I've tried to put my guys in position to where they can walk in a meeting and go places and they don't need me because they got to a point where they've done their homework," he said. "They've studied on what they want to do and they can hold a meeting without me because of the respect that they have and the knowledge they have. That's just 12 years of hard work and dedication that we put to each other. I know Phil's in a position of power in our sport, but to criticize me and my guys over that is nonsense."