ESPN analyst Jalen Rose believes that NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson’s recent comments about the NBA’s social justice messages were out of bounds and took him to task for it.
Making an appearance on hip hop empresario Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton podcast, Jackson said that he hasn’t enjoyed watching NBA games since the league implemented social justice initiatives during the 2020 playoffs in the bubble where Black Lives Matter was written on the court and players wore slogans on the backs of jerseys
“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,” Jackson said in the interview.
“And they had things on their back like, ‘Justice.’ They made a funny thing like, ‘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. …I couldn’t watch that,” he added.
But Rose fired back at Jackson on social media by pointing out that all of his success and fortune that he’s accumulated was due to the Black athletes that he coached during his career.
“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 backs of jerseys and ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the floor,” Rose said. “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. He made millions on their backs and off their sweat equity.”
The ESPN analyst also critiqued Jackson for making light of the messages that players wore in protest of the deaths of George Floyd and other Black people during the pandemic. Rose advised Jackson to turn his attention away from the league for good.
“You’re sitting there watching the game with your grandkids, and y'all think it’s funny when ‘justice’ passes the ball to ‘equal opportunity?’” he added. “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them. So stop watching, forever.”
Rose's response to Jackson’s statements was the latest example of the Hall of Fame coach's prior controversial remarks about Black players. Back in 2016, LeBron James took offense to Jackson describing him and his team as a “posse.”
"It just sucks that now at this point having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter, that's done so many great businesses [deals], that the title for young African Americans is the word 'posse,'" James said at the time.
"To use that label, and if you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career," James continued. "It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African Americans trying to make a difference."
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