On the Tetragrammaton podcast with Rick Rubin, Jackson remarked, “They had stuff on their backs like ‘Justice’ and a weird thing happened like, ‘Justice just got to the basket and Equal Opportunity knocked him down. Some of my grandkids found it amusing playing names like that, I couldn’t watch that,” Jackson continued.
To show solidarity with the fight against racial injustice in the United States, the NBA allowed players to wear messages such as “Justice”, “Equality”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Say Their Names”, “Vote”, “Peace”, and others on the back of their jerseys in place of their names during the 2020 NBA Draft Bubble.
Following the murders of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed black lady who was killed in her home, and George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in the summer of 2020, there have been major protests . Games during the bubble were postponed because players refused to participate after Wisconsin police shot and killed black man Jacob Blake, 29, in the back.
Jackson, 77, seems to think the league being too political has done more damage than good as a result of that message.
He said the game was meant to appeal to a certain audience or attract that crowd while ignoring that it was alienating other players. People want sport to be seen as apolitical. Politics is kept out of the game; it is useless.
Whatever your view, this isn’t the first time Jackson has urged basketball players to avoid politics or made a questionable racist comment.
Jackson told ESPN’s JA Adande in 2010 that “I don’t think teams should get involved in political affairs” in reference to the Phoenix Suns’ nonviolent protest against new immigration laws. Arizona while wearing “Los Suns” shirts.
In a 2016 interview with ESPN, he called LeBron James’ business partners a “group,” said the players “dressed in prison gear…it’s like gangsters, thug stuff “, and claimed that rap music had caused “a certain population in our society” to have a “limitation in their attention span”.
Scottie Pippen, a former Jackson player during the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs in the 1990s, accused Jackson of being racist in 2021 after Jackson engineered a last-second play for youngster Toni Kuko during a game 1994 playoff over Pippen.
Pippen remarked, “I don’t believe it’s a mystery, you have to read between the lines.”…I thought it was a chance to elevate [Kukoc]. It was a racist ploy to advance it. You gonna tell me to get the ball out and give it to Toni Kukoc after everything I’ve been through with this organization? You are laughing at me. It was my feeling.
Additionally, Pippen said that when Jackson left him and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 to write a book, he came back in 2005 and tried to “expose” Kobe Bryant.
Jackson spent 50 years in the NBA from 1967 to 2017 as a player, coach and executive. He won 11 NBA championships while coaching the Bulls and Lakers, earning him a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2014, Jackson was named president of the New York Knicks, but the two sides mutually agreed to part ways in 2017.