LeBron James received the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award Monday night and hip hop mogul Jay-Z introduced the Cavaliers star. In doing so, Mr. Carter took a not-so-subtle shot at Phil Jackson following Jackson’s “posse” comments last month. From Sports Illustrated (view the whole speech here):
“He’s a dedicated family man who married his high school sweetheart Savannah. Has three lovely children. He’s the son who honors and worships his mother Gloria. The friend who put his “posse” in position. We know where we come from. We do understand where we come from, and 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 as we witness their development, and if we’re looking 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.”
“LeBron James has made all of those around him better on and off the court. We acknowledge and recognize all he has done for the game. But, tonight we say thank you. Not just for your commitment to basketball, but for all you’ve done for the community. And thank you for how you’ve enriched the lives of all those around you. We messed around and got a triple-double in real life.”
Probably not a truly “necessary” comment from Jay-Z but it’s hard to blame him given the controversy. Moreover, this shows just how seriously James and the community around him took this issue. This isn’t just a wayward, unnecessary shot from a random executive. It’s one of the true Godfathers of the sport, diminishing the very notion that James has invested himself in: bringing up not only himself but those around him into being more than just a basketball player, but also a brand and business entity.
James has dedicated his off-court life to trying to lift up those around him, those who came from the same poverty he has. That message clearly resonates with Jay-Z, and this clapback wasn’t about Phil Jackson at all, but any resistance to the idea that athletes can carry their friends up with them without enabling hangers on.
To watch James’ acceptance speech, click here.