Hall of Fame former basketball coach Phil Jackson said that he couldn’t bear to watch social justice-themed NBA games, and he slammed his former league for mixing politics with basketball.
Jackson won two championship rings as a forward for the New York Knicks and he won a record eleven championships as head coach, including six as head coach of the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era and five more as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, where he coached Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant. Certainly, his basketball bona fides are well-established. So why isn’t Phil staying engaged with the NBA in his retirement?
“No, I don’t,” coach Phil Jackson said on the podcast Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin, when asked if he still watches a lot of basketball. Jackson admitted that he is not enjoying modern NBA games.
Jackson said that his dissatisfaction with watching the NBA started during the Coronavirus era. Infamously, the NBA used an isolated “bubble” format to prevent travel and they played games without fans in the stands. Jackson took particular exception to the social justice-themed slogans that players wore on their jerseys to signify their Woke support for George Floyd-related racial justice protests and other social issues.
“You know, they went into the lockout year, and they did something that was kind of wanky. They did a bubble down in Orlando. And all the teams that could qualify went down there and stayed down there. And they had things on their back, like, ‘Justice’ and…I made a little funny thing, like, you know, ‘Justice just went to the basket and Equal Opportunity just knocked him down.’…My grandkids thought that was pretty funny, to play up those names. So I couldn’t watch that.”
“They even had slogans on the floor,” Jackson added. “On the baseline. It was catering. It was trying to cater to an audience, or trying to bring a certain audience into play. And they didn’t know it was turning other people off. You know? They want to see sports as non-political.”
Jackson noted the proliferation of athletes who have become politicians, like his onetime New York Knicks teammate and former Democrat senator Bill Bradley, but Jackson noted, “But their politics stay out of the game. It doesn’t need to be there.”
Phil Jackson says he doesn’t like basketball’s evolution & doesn’t watch anymore, thought the Bubble & political slogans on jerseys was “wanky” and made fun of it with his grandchildren
was listening to his new interview with Rick Rubin & thought it was interesting. pic.twitter.com/FVBpdnuCFj
— Clique Productions (@ImClique_) April 20, 2023