Phil Jackson has been heavily criticized for comments he made on the Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin podcast. In the program, the former coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers mentioned that he stopped watching the NBA during 2020 due to the changes that occurred in the Orlando bubble, especially with regard to the names of the players on their uniforms.
After the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the NBA allowed players to use slogans such as ‘Justice,’ ‘Equality,’ ‘Liberation,’ ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Say Their Names,’ ‘Vote,’ ‘Freedom,’ ‘Power to the People,’ ‘I Am a Man,’ ‘Peace’ and ‘I Can’t Breathe’ instead of their last names. For Jackson this was wanky.
“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,” he said. “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.’ … So my grandkids thought that was pretty funny to play up those names. So I couldn’t watch that,” Jackson said.
“They even had slogans on the floor and the baseline. It was trying… to bring a certain audience to the game, and they didn’t know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political. Politics has to stay out of the game, it doesn’t need to be there.”
Jackson’s comments were not been well received by ESPN analyst Jalen Rose.
“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. Made millions on their backs and off their sweat equity.
You’re sitting up watching the game with your grandkids, and y’all think it’s funny when justice passes the ball to equal opportunity. When somebody shows you who they are, believe them. So stop watching forever,” Rose said.