Not too long ago, Hall of Famer coach Phil Jackson was in the eye of the storm as he found himself being criticized by basketball players and fans after his comments regarding the NBA becoming too political ever since the 2020 bubble in Orlando.
The legendary trainer was invited on an episode of the “Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin” podcast and admitted that he’d lost interest in basketball as players in the league were all wearing shirts with social justice messages.
Phil Jackson walks back comment about NBA’s ‘politics’ in 2020 bubble https://t.co/voj8N3hges
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 14, 2023
According to the famous Bulls and Lakers coach, the league was “catering” to a certain audience, polarizing the country even more as it turned off fans who desired to enjoy the sport without politics involved.
This past week, Jackson was invited on the latest episode of “Stacey King’s Gime the Hot Sauce” podcast and when asked about his remarks, he replied that critics had failed to understand the humor behind them.
“I don’t think people got the humor,” he started out. “The names are on the back of the players that were in the bubble because if you apply them to defending and challenging and going to the hoop, and you use those monikers that were on the names, it had a funny aspect to it.
“That’s just what I was bringing up to the kids. Visually, this is kind of humorous.”
The legendary coach tried to be very clear that he has no problem with the social justice campaign, he simply believes it shouldn’t be mixed with professional athletes.
“I had nothing against BLM or the cause that was behind it,” he explained. “The humorous nature of going completely woke by the NBA really was like, it’s pretty hard to watch.”
What did Phil Jackson say that caused so much fury around the NBA? His initial comments were mostly referring to how he found those messages on jerseys to be funny, along with his grandchildren.
“They went into the lockout year, and they did something that was kind of wonky. They did a bubble down in Orlando, and all the teams that could qualify went down there, and stayed down there,” he said last month. “And they had things on their backs like ‘Justice.’ I made a little funny thing like, ‘Justice just went to the basket, and Equal Opportunity just knocked him down.’
“So, my grandkids thought that was pretty funny to play up those names. So, I couldn’t watch that.”
Many sports analysts labelled Jackson a racist after his comments on the NBA being too political
Jackson was ripped apart after his comments went viral, even sparking past rumours about the coach being a racist even back when he coached in the league.
ESPN analyst Jalen Rose was one of the first to condemn the 11-time NBA champion.
“You can’t make this up. Hall of Fame coach and 11-time champion Phil Jackson claims to have stopped supporting the NBA because it became ‘too political’ when it went into the bubble and was catering to certain audiences by putting slogans on the back of jerseys and Black Lives Matter on the floor,” he said.
Check out the media coverage on the legendary coach’s remarks regarding the modern NBA:
“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. You’re sitting there watching the game with your grandkids and y’all think its funny when justice passes the ball to equal opportunity.
“When somebody shows you who they are, believe them,” Rose concluded.