Former Bulls coach Phil Jackson criticizes NBA as ‘catering’ and being too political

The Hall of Fame coach said that he hasn’t watched the NBA since the 2020 bubble season.

SHARE Former Bulls coach Phil Jackson criticizes NBA as ‘catering’ and being too political
Former Bulls coach Phil Jackson criticized the NBA for being too political.

Former Bulls coach Phil Jackson criticized the NBA for being too political.

ESPN Films/Netflix/Mandalay Sports Media/NBA Entertainment

Phil Jackson was trending on the internet Saturday when comments circulated from his appearance on the podcast “Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin” saying that he doesn’t watch the NBA because it’s too political.

In the conversation, which was published April 5, the Hall of Fame coach revealed to the music mogul that he hasn’t watched the NBA since the 2020 bubble season, calling the modified postseason format “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.”

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the world experienced racial reckoning with the police killing of Breonna Taylor and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. The NBA had “Black Lives Matter” on the courts in the bubble, allowed players to kneel during the national anthem and offered them the opportunity to choose a social justice message for their nameplate.

Jayson Tatum, Pascal Siakam, Russell Westbrook and Tyler Herro wore “Black Lives Matter” on their jerseys. Zion Williamson and Carmelo Anthony chose “Peace” and Damian Lillard chose “How Many More” to go along with his No. 0 to plead that no more names would become hashtags as victims of racially-charged violence. LeBron James was among a handful of players who opted not to select a slogan as he wanted his work off the court to stand for itself.

Jackson, 77, didn’t see how these gestures made an impact and thought the league was trying to appease part of its fan base.

“It was catering, trying to cater to an audience or trying to bring a certain audience into play,” he said. “They didn’t know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political.”

One of Jackson’s former teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, won the 2020 bubble championship.

Jackson retired from coaching in 2011 after winning 11 championships — five with the Lakers, and two three-peat runs with the Bulls. He served as president of the New York Knicks for three seasons, from 2014-2017. Jackson played 12 seasons in the NBA — 10 for the Knicks and two for the Nets.

Read more at usatoday.com

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