Eleven-time champion coach Phil Jackson said in a recent interview that he no longer watches NBA basketball, saying that the league was trying to appeal to a “certain audience” with social justice efforts.
On a recent appearance on the “Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin” podcast earlier this month, Jackson told host Rick Rubin that he had not watched NBA basketball since the 2020 pandemic and the league played in a COVID bubble in Orlando, Fla. He said that having phrases like “Justice” and “Equal Opportunity” on the back of players’ jerseys instead of their last names was a sign of “catering.”
When asked if Jackson continued to watch basketball, he said he did not. Pointing to social justice phrases on a player’s jersey, he said his grandchildren thought it was “pretty funny to play up those names.”
“They had things on their back like ‘Justice’ and a funny thing, like ‘Justice went to the basket and Equal Opportunity knocked him down,’” he said.
“They even had slogans on the floor, on the baseline. It was catering. It was trying to cater to an audience, or trying to bring a certain audience into play,” he added. “And they didn’t know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political.”
ESPN analyst Jalen Rose blasted Jackson’s comments in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, saying that “You can’t make this up.”
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“The same Phil Jackson that won championships with some of the greatest Black athletes in the history of the game. Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe Bryant. Made millions on their backs and off their sweat equity,” Rose said.
“You’re sitting there watching the game with your grandkids, and ya’ll think it’s funny when justice passes the ball to equal opportunity?” Rose added. “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them. So stop watching, forever.”
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