Jalen Rose, Jemele Hill And Others Say Phil Jackson’s Recent Comments About The NBA Are Nothing New Given His Past

Legendary coach Phil Jackson has never been afraid to speak his mind and recently made headlines for his comments about the 2020 NBA bubble in Orlando. The Hall of Fame coach went on the podcast “Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin” and said he stopped watching the NBA because it was too political.

Phil Jackson speaking on a basketball panel in 2019; Jalen Rose posing for pictures on a red carpet movie premiere (Photos: Getty Images)

“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 on the podcast. “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 continued, “It was trying to cater to an audience or 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 stays out of the game; it doesn’t need to be there.”

Jalen Rose took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon and gave his thoughts about Jackson’s comments. The former NBA player didn’t like what Jackson said and thought the comments were racially insensitive toward Black players. Rose might’ve had a point since the NBA is made up of 82.4 percent people of color, according to a report from ESPN in August.

Rose Response

Rose criticized Jackson for his comments and pointed out that he made millions off of winning 11 championships as the head coach of predominantly Black teams.

“You can’t make this up … 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,” Rose said in a video he posted on his Twitter account. “Made millions on their backs. And off their sweat equity.”

He continued, “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?’ When somebody shows you who they are, believe them. So stop watching, forever.”

The NBA and other professional sports leagues finally took notice to what Black Americans have been saying for years about racial inequality in the United States. The issues came to a forefront in the summer of 2020 after people in major cities took to the streets to protest following the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin.

How Is Jackson Still Not Canceled?

Rose pointed out that Jackson has always shown who he was as a person, and local sports writer Chuck Modi pointed out some of things that Jackson has said throughout the years.

In 1999, Jackson said that Black players’ attention spans were influenced by the music they listen to.

“I don’t mean to say [that] as a snide remark toward a certain population in our society, but they have a limitation of their attention span, a lot of it probably due to too much rap music going in their ears and coming out their being,” said Jackson in October 1999.

In 2005, Jackson’s comments about the NBA dress code suggested he took a shot at players like Allen Iverson for how he dressed.

“Getting out of prison garb & thuggery aspect of basketball that has come along w/hip-hop music,” said Jackson in 2005.

Then he went after LeBron James and his business partners in 2016. He described a situation that happened while James was playing for the Heat. The full quote said:

“When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night. They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t. So now (coach Erik) Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, ‘What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, ‘You are on the plane, you are with this team.’ You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.”

Former ESPN analyst Jemele Hill wrote a simple statement to agree with what Modi pointed out on Twitter.

“Speak on it.” Hill wrote.

Former NBA player Isaiah “JR” Rider has previously appeared on Kevin Garnett’s podcast “The Big Ticket” and shared a story about something said Jackson said about him during Rider’s one season in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

“One day he says, ‘You guys have a good day, hopefully we don’t see’ — No, ‘Hopefully, I don’t hear about JR being on Crenshaw,’ ” Rider said on the podcast.

Bulls legend Scottie Pippen said in his book “Unguarded” that Jackson gave playing time based on race. It seems Jackson has stuck in his foot in his mouth far too many times, and NBA players and others are tired of it.

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