Hall of Fame NBA coach Phil Jackson confessed that he has not tuned in to a game in years, and it’s all because the league became “too political.”
The legend was on the bench for a remarkable 11 NBA championship teams. Six times he hoisted the trophy with the Chicago Bulls and another five times with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jackson made the revelation during an interview on the Tetragrammaton podcast. Speaking with Rick Rubin, the 77-year-old ex-coach and player said it was in the early days of the pandemic that the association lost his interest.
The 11-time NBA championship coach declared he is not enjoying the game and hasn’t since players began donning woke messages on their jerseys. Everything from “Justice” to “Black Lives Matter” replaced their names.
Jackson observed that “there’s a whole generation that doesn’t like the game.” His break with the league appears to have started when 2020’s postseason games were played in the “bubble” in Orlando due to COVID-19.
He recalled that “they did something kind of wanky” with the bubble, and all the teams that qualified for the playoffs went and stayed there.
Phil Jackson, widely seen as the greatest coach in NBA history, says he doesn’t watch the NBA anymore because of all the political slogans introduced in 2020. He’s not alone in this. My oldest daughter and I used to love watching but it got too political to watch. pic.twitter.com/bV6Sb0qvrK
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) April 22, 2023
It was July 2020 when the NBA announced 29 approved messages for the backs of players’ jerseys. The list included “Say Their Names,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Vote,” and “Power to the People.” Jackson noted that the basketball floors were also littered with slogans.
“Black Lives Matter” was printed on courts and players were allowed to kneel during the national anthem.
Predictably, the social media backlash was harsh against Jackson. The NAACP’s Bishop Talbert Swan mocked the former coach for believing the NBA should not be political when “the league is 80% Black.”
Swan used the fact that Michael Jordan and other greats who played for Jackson were also Black, though the connection he attempted to draw was not made clear.
Jackson stated what is obvious to most, that people want their sports to be nonpolitical. He pointed out that there have been several NBA players who went into politics after their playing days were over, but they never brought their beliefs into the game.