Coaching legend Phil Jackson quit watching NBA after BLM slogans

Michael Jordan’s former coach has made questionable statements about Blacks in recent years
Coaching legend Phil Jackson quit watching NBA after BLM slogans
Phil Jackson (Image source: YouTube/Sports Wars

Phil Jackson, the man who coached Michael Jordan to six NBA championships in the 1990s, said he stopped watching NBA games after players began adopting Black Lives Matter slogans during the pinnacle of the pandemic.

The Hall of Fame coach, 77, who also coached Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to three titles in four Finals appearances, said the NBA was no longer digestible and watchable to him in 2020. He found it odious that the NBA has authorized players to have words like “Justice,” “Equality,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” “Vote,” “Peace” stenciled on the back of their jerseys. This period of racial reckoning was in response to the back-to-back-to-back, high-profile deaths of Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and especially George Floyd at the hands of the police and psuedo cops. 

“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 on the ‘Tetragrammaton’ podcast with Rick Rubin. “Some of my grandkids thought it was pretty funny to play up those names. I couldn’t watch that.”

From Jackson’s perspective, politics and athletics are not compatible and tended to exacerbate racial animus in the United States.

“It was trying to cater to an audience or trying to bring a certain audience to the game,” he said, “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.”

This is hardly the first problematic statement on race that Jackson has made in recent years. Some fans remember when he referred to LeBron James’ business partners derisively as a “posse” in 2016, according to ESPN. He also said “a certain population in our society” has a “limitation of their attention span” due to subscribing to rap music, and that players “have been dressing in prison garb … it’s like gangster, thuggery stuff.” 

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