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Phil Jackson Doesn’t Watch ‘Woke’ NBA Due to BLM Slogans

Phil Jackson slams social justice slogans in NBA
Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant Getty

*Legendary coach Phil Jackson claims he hasn’t watched an NBA game since the 2019-20 season because it became too political with Black Lives Matter and other social justice slogans on the court and on players’ 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 on the “Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin” 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, 77, said the “woke” messaging alienated some viewers. Jackson won two championships with the New York Knicks as a former power forward, six titles as head coach with the Chicago Bulls, and five as a coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

“They even had slogans on the floor, on the baseline. It was catering. It was trying to cater to an audience, or trying to bring a certain audience into play. And they didn’t know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political,” Jackson continued. 

READ MORE: Phil Jackson’s Past ‘Racist’ Comments Unearthed About Blacks, NBA Players

“We’ve had a lot of different type of players that have gone on to be … Bill Bradley was a senator, a number of baseball players have been representatives and senators … But their politics stay out of the game. It doesn’t need to be there,” said Jackson.

NBA veteran-turned-ESPN broadcaster Jalen Rose clapped back with a fiery response to Jackson’s comments.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to hear Phil Jackson be so out-of-touch about a very important public movement. The whole contention of Black Lives Matter is focused around Black Americans being treated with care and respect, a criticism of deep-seeded systemic inequities that extend everywhere from housing to policing,” said Rose. 

“This is not rocket science. The fact that Jackson sees the notion of NBA players, incredibly public personalities with a great platform in a majority-Black league, standing up for basic justice with the fairly innocuous gesture of these temporarily-renamed jerseys as some kind of offensive political statement is deeply disappointing to hear,” Rose added.

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