Hall of Fame NBA coach Phil Jackson said he no longer enjoys watching basketball games because of the political messages that the league and the players promote.
“They had things on their back like ‘Justice’ and a funny thing happened like, ‘Justice just went to the basket and Equal Opportunity knocked him down,'” Jackson said,”Some of my grandkids thought it was pretty funny to play up those names; I couldn’t watch that.”
Jackson made his comments during a recent appearance on the Tetragammaton Podcast with Rick Rubin.
The slogans which Jackson was referring to were “Justice,” “Equality,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” “Vote,” “Peace” and others that were placed on the back of NBA game jerseys instead of players’ last names. The NBA placed the slogans as a public sign of their support behind fighting racial injustice due to a spate of police officer-involved shootings, which incidents enraged the liberal players in the league. These players sought to send a message during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic “bubble” season, where NBA teams played at a single location without fans in the stands.
Jackson, age 77, thought that the NBA’s attempt to cater to their players and their perception of public sentiment actually harmed the league with a fanbase that just wants to watch basketball.
“They even had slogans on the floor and the baseline,” Jackson said, “It was trying… to bring a certain audience to the game, and they didn’t know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political. Politics stays out of the game; it doesn’t need to be there.”
In response to Jackson’s comments, former NBA player Jalen Rose fired back and called Jackson a hypocrite. Rose claimed that Jackson’s hypocrisy was built on having won league championships and making millions off the “backs and sweat equity” of some of the greatest black athletes to have ever played the game. Rose said Jackson should just stop watching games “forever.”
The truth of the matter is that Jackson, who spent 50 years in the NBA as a player, coach, and executive and won 11 world championships with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, exposed the damage that the NBA did to its own brand by kowtowing to the political Left and forcing its fans to accept the decision.
Politics is a part of the NBA, whether you like it or not, and it has been fostered by the leagues, its players, and also its star coaches Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Both coaches regularly take advantage of their status by speaking out on political issues, much to the dismay of many fans.