Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson found himself the subject of controversy last month after saying he wasn’t watching much basketball because the game became too political.
Jackson made the comments on an episode of the «Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin» podcast and mocked nba players wearing social justice messages on the back of their jerseys during the NBA bubble in Orlando, FL.
He said the NBA was «satisfying» a certain audience, which scared off fans who wanted keep the policy out of sport.
Jackson was asked about his comments on the latest episode of Give me Stacey King’s hot saucean Audacy podcast, saying that critics had not understood the humor behind them.
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«I don’t think people got the humor… 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 basket, and you use those nicknames that were above the names , he was funny looking,» Jackson said. «That’s just what I was telling the kids. Visually, this is kind of funny.»
«I had nothing against the BLM or the cause behind it. The humorous nature of being fully aroused by the NBA really was like, it’s pretty hard to watch.»
In his initial comments on the orlando bubbleJackson said he made jokes about the social justice messages on the T-shirts, which his grandchildren found amusing.
«They went into the year of the lockout and they did something that was a little weird. They bubbled up in Orlando, and every team that could qualify went there and stayed there,» he continued. “And they had things on their backs like ‘Justice.’ I did a funny little thing like, ‘Justice just went to the basket, and Equal Opportunity just shot it down.’ . . So my grandkids thought it was really fun to play with those names. So, I couldn’t see that.»
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Jackson continued: «They even had slogans on the floor, on the baseline. It was catering. It was trying to cater to an audience, or trying to attract a certain audience. And they didn’t know that it was turning other people into people want to see sports as apolitical.
«We’ve had a lot of different types of players come to be… Bill Bradley was a senator, various ballplayers have been representatives and senators… But his politics stays out of the game. He doesn’t have to be there.»
Jackson immediately faced backlash for his comments, with the former and current NBA player ESPN Analyst Jalen Rose tearing apart the 11-time NBA champion coach in a video posted to Twitter.
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«You can’t make this up. Hall of Fame coach and 11-time champion Phil Jackson claims to have stopped supporting the NBA because he got ‘too political’ when he entered the bubble and catered to certain audiences by putting slogans on the back t-shirts and Black Lives Matter on the floor,» Rose said.
«The same Phil Jackson who won championships with some of the greatest black athletes in the history of the game: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant. They made millions behind their backs and with their sweat. You’re sitting watching the game with your grandkids and everyone thinks it’s funny when justice passes the ball to equal opportunity. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
«Then stop looking… forever.»
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Jackson won six NBA titles as head coach of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and five titles with the los angeles lakers in the 2000s.
He was hired to be the President of Basketball Operations for the The New York Knicks in 2014 before being fired after three seasons.