How bad is the reputation of the National Basketball Association? The league is so ridiculously woke that the coach who won more league championships than anyone else – Hall of Famer Phil Jackson – has tuned out of the NBA.
Jackson did an interview with an obscure podcaster, “Tetragrammation with Rick Rubin," early this month, but it lit up sports sites Sports Illustrated, USA Today, the New York Post and others this weekend.
The 11-time champion as a coach for the Lakers and Bulls says he has not watched the NBA since 2020, during the height of the Black Lives Matter mania. It’s too woke and too political for him, and the modified playoff format is too “wanky,” he said. Jackson also commented that he is not enjoying the game, and “There’s a whole generation that doesn’t like the game."
"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. 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 said politics should stay out of the game because “it doesn’t need to be there.”
USA Today writer Victoria Hernandez tried to defend the athletes’ “racial reckoning” of 2020, writing that by painting “Black Lives Matter” on their courts in the Florida bubble, the NBA “allowed players to kneel during the national anthem and offered them the opportunity to choose a social justice message for their nameplate.”
Hernandez's article also noted that Jackson isn’t buying claims that these gestures had any impact, opining that by trying to appease part of its fan base, the NBA ended up angering a huge chunk of fans.
Case in point: the NBA Finals now draw a mere fraction of what the game formerly attracted. In the pre-woke era, the 1998 NBA Finals averaged 29 million viewers, but the 2020 bubble year NBA Finals drew historic lows. In fact, this year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament title game out-drew the NBA with 10 million viewers. The NBA averaged 1.59 million viewers for the current season, one of its worst viewership figures in the past 30 years.
Last year’s Finals rebounded somewhat, but the woke league has never approached its most popular era.
"It was catering, trying to cater to an audience or trying to bring a certain audience into play," Jackson said. "They didn't know it was turning other people off. People want to see sports as non-political."
To the woke folks, Jackson is now one of the worst racists ever for his comments.
Bishop Talbert Swan, a Massachusetts religious leader who touts black nationalism and anti-Semitism, blasted Jackson via Twitter:
“Phil Jackson says he doesn’t watch the NBA anymore because it should be non-political and not support slogans like ‘Black Lives Matter.
“The league is 80% Black. He didn’t mind Jordan, @ScottiePippen, @kobebryant, @SHAQ, and mostly Black players giving him 11 championships.”
Which is really comparing apples to oranges. Those guys played in a pre-woke era and stayed in their lane, rather than wading into political activism.
Jackson wasn’t the most likely NBA figure to call out the league for the wokeness that's turned off so many of its fans. But by doing so, he raised a lot of eyebrows, and he also commanded a lot of respect for boldly speaking out in the era of Cancel Culture.