Hayworth: Does NBA mean ‘Not Basketball Anymore’?

With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien, Phil Jackson rates as a real-life “Lord of the Rings” from his time as both a player and a coach in the NBA.

He earned two championship rings on the roster of the New York Knicks, six more as coach of the Chicago Bulls, and another five coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

But now, the lone pro basketball luminary has booted NBA games off his television sets.

You might say Phil has had his fill.

Jackson told podcaster Rick Rubin that the NBA has become too political, and for that reason, he has stopped watching.

Phil’s disenchantment bubbled to the surface amid the forced isolation of the COVID lockdown and the NBA’s much-ballyhooed plan to play its games within a “made-for-TV bubble.”

The medical intent of that “NBA Bubble” was to keep the teams free from COVID-19, but the actual result was to infect the entire league with the political contagion of “woke.”

And disturbing to Phil was the fact that the floor of the basketball court was used to advocate for a certain viewpoint in the “court of public opinion.”

The former coach cited the “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 (the NBA) didn’t know it was turning other people off.”

What was most off-putting for Phil was the league deliberately omitting names on jerseys to instead feature virtue signaling.

“They had things on their back like ‘Justice’ and a funny thing happened,” Jackson recalled. “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.”

Of course, if you watch ESPN, which now stands for “Expect Sports Politicized Non-stop,” you understand that honest observations like those offered by Phil Jackson attract reflexive rants from woke “contributors” to the sports channel.

Jalen Rose attacked Jackson’s remarks on social media. And Rose employed a typical — though in this case ill-fitting — leftist trope.

“You can’t make this up. … The same Phil Jackson that won championships with some of the greatest Black athletes in the history of the game: Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe Bryant … made millions on their backs. And off their sweat equity.”

Just for the record, Jalen … this isn’t 1619, 1859 or even 1969.

The four athletes you mentioned were not subjected to involuntary servitude, and collectively they made millions more than the millions paid to Phil Jackson as their coach.

“Big Guy,” J.D. Hayworth, Author

The same applies to your use of “sweat equity.” The actions of a demanding coach who takes his players through physically exhausting workouts in pursuit of a championship that will further enrich them all? That just doesn’t fit the invited inference of a plantation foreman in the Antebellum South.

Of course, there was more to Rose’s rant … and it focused on the Jacksons’ reaction during “family viewing time.”

“You’re sitting there watching the game with your grandkids, and y’all think it’s funny when ‘justice’ passes the ball to ‘equal opportunity’”?

Well, no.

As Phil explained on the podcast, Jalen, humor was found in the irony of “Justice” driving to the hoop … only to be knocked down by “Equal Opportunity.”

Jalen Rose invites a predictable description to be foisted upon Phil Jackson … but Rose refuses to use the word.

“When somebody shows you who they are, believe them.”

That’s right … “Racist!”

But all Phil suggested was that basketball be the featured attraction of the NBA — not social justice nor “wokeism.”

That’s altogether reasonable.

Written by J.D. Hayworth for West Valley View ~ May 9, 2023

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