On the Tetragrammaton podcast with Rick Rubin, Jackson remarked, “They had stuff on their backs like ‘Justice’ and a strange thing occurred like, ‘Justice just got to the basket and Equal Opportunity knocked him down. Some of my grandchildren found it amusing to play up such names; I couldn’t watch that, Jackson continued.
In order to demonstrate solidarity for the struggle against racial injustice in the United States, the NBA permitted players to wear messages like 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 house, and George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed during the summer of 2020, there were sizable demonstrations. Games during the bubble were postponed because players declined to participate after Wisconsin police shot and killed Black man Jacob Blake, 29, in the back.
Jackson, 77, seems to think that the league being overly political caused more damage than good as a result of this message.
He said that the game was aiming to appeal to a certain audience or draw in that crowd while being unaware that it was alienating other players. People want sports to be seen as being apolitical. Politics is kept out of the game; it is unnecessary.
Regardless of your perspective, this is not the first time Jackson has urged basketball players to avoid politics or made a dubious racial comment.
Jackson said to ESPN’s J.A. Adande in 2010 that “I don’t think teams should get involved in the political stuff” in reference to the Phoenix Suns’ nonviolent protest of Arizona’s new immigration laws while wearing “Los Suns” shirts.
In a 2016 interview with ESPN, he called LeBron James’ business partners his “posse,” said that players “have been dressing in prison garb… it’s like gangster, thuggery stuff,” and claimed that rap music has caused “a certain population in our society” to have a “limitation of their attention span.”
Scottie Pippen, a former player for Jackson during the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs in the 1990s, accused Jackson of being racist in 2021 after Jackson designed a last-second play for youngster Toni Kuko during a 1994 playoff game rather than Pippen.
Pippen remarked, “I don’t believe it’s a mystery, you need to read between the lines. “… I thought it was a chance to elevate [Kukoc]. It was a racist ploy to advance him. You’re going to tell me to pull the ball out and give it to Toni Kukoc after all I’ve gone through with this organization? You’re making fun of me. That was my sentiment.
Additionally, Pippen said that when Jackson left the Los Angeles Lakers and him in 2004 to write a book, he came back in 2005 and attempted to “expose” Kobe Bryant.
Jackson spent 50 years in the NBA from 1967 to 2017 as a player, coach, and executive. He earned 11 NBA championships while coaching the Bulls and Lakers, earning him a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2014, Jackson was appointed president of the New York Knicks, but the two parties mutually agreed to separate ways in 2017.