‘People want to see sports as non-political’: Legendary coach Phil Jackson says he hasn’t watched the NBA in years because it’s ‘too political’

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Hall of Fame basketball coach Phil Jackson revealed that he hasn’t watched an NBA game in years because the game has gotten “too political.”

Jackson made the comments during an appearance on the Tetragrammaton podcast with iconic music producer Rick Rubin.

Rubin asked Jackson if he still watches a lot of basketball. Jackson explained how he was put off by the game that he has loved for his entire life. Jackson first started not being a fan of the NBA during the 2020 bubble postseason experiment, where teams played in a bubble in Orlando during the pandemic.

“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 recalled.

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Jackson poked fun at the NBA for pushing social justice messages on player jerseys in 2020.

“They had things on their back like ‘Justice’ and a funny thing happened like, ‘Justice went to the basket and Equal Opportunity knocked him down.’ Some of my grandkids thought it was pretty funny to play up those names. I couldn’t watch that,” Jackson said.

In July 2020, the NBA announced a list of 29 approved jersey names that were focused on social justice. Some of the approved messages that players could wear on their jerseys were Justice, Equal Opportunity, Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can’t Breathe, Equality, Power to the People, Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can), Anti-Racist, and Group Economics.

“They even had slogans on the floor,” Jackson noted, likely referencing when the NBA painted “Black Lives Matter” on the floor of the main basketball court of the bubble playoffs.

“It was catering, it was trying to cater to an audience or trying to bring a certain audience into play,” Jackson said. “And they didn’t know it was turning other people off.”

“You know, people want to see sports as non-political,” the NBA coach stated.

Jackson was talking about the height of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

He pointed out that several NBA players have been politicians, but they keep their politics out of the NBA game.

Jackson retired from coaching basketball in 2016 after winning 11 championships — five with the Los Angeles Lakers, and six with the Chicago Bulls.

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