By: Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson
Over the weekend, Hall of Fame basketball coach Phil Jackson shared that he isn’t watching much basketball these days because the NBA has become too political.
Appearing on Rick Rubin’s “Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin” Podcast, Jackson admitted that the NBA bubble portion of the 2019-20 season got too political when players wore political slogans like “Equality” on the back of their jerseys during the league’s restart tournament in Orlando, Florida.
“They did something that was kind of wonky,” said Jackson.
“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 backs like ‘Justice.’ I made a little 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 who has coached the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls to multiple championships with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen has received criticism from many including Jalen Rose.
Metta Sandiford-Artest, who won a Championship with Jackson, Bryant and the Lakers in 2010 weighed in on what Jackson said. He believes that lack of communication or understanding other people’s perspective could have been the reason Jackson may have felt that way. “I’m not a politician,” he told me by phone.
“Nobody’s coming with any programs to bring people together. It’s all political.”
A man of many names and distinctions, NBA fans are keenly aware of RonArtest, now named Metta Sandiford-Artest and formerly known as Metta World Peace for a time.
During his career, he was a 4 time NBA all-defensive team member.
Sandiford-Artest believes that 2020 was traumatic and there was much confusion including for the NBA players who participated in the NBA bubble.
“Keep in mind, I’m NOT a politician. I’m from Queensbridge but I think people don’t really understand the trauma,” he said while reflecting on all that transpired in 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and the NBA’s restart in the bubble.
“This is locker room talk, barber shop talk, grocery store talk, especially with George Floyd with Black Lives Matter, right? And so from that perspective everybody’s so helpless. I did even though I’m not going to take my political stance but I did feel helpless. I felt helpless and confused. I definitely wanted to do something about it but I felt like our people didn’t have a voice. So people and the athletes do it and have their views but when people say things, people have to be a little more direct — is it the players or is it the executives? Who are you targeting because once again, the players are going to have to say something first. I’m a former player. I say that because there has to be balance.”
Sandiford-Artest says he believes in unity. “I think that balance is key,” he said.
“How do you bring two groups together? Like these people don’t get it [politicians] and they don’t talk about the right things. You gotta dig into it and also you have to create balance and that’s the thing and you can’t be in it trying to make a quick buck — there’s no programs and the culture is like… where’s the culture at? Like where is it? The holidays are great but with some holidays, you gotta bring these people together, you know what I’m sayin’? You need gatherings and without that it’s always going to be confusing; it’s always going to be some type of imbalance as a country as people focus on balance. And it’s always going to be like that.”
He also thinks that society is shifting. “America is moving too fast,” he said.
“There’s no balance. No one knows each other. And this is no disrespect to people because some people are not natural born leaders; I don’t care what position you’re in. If you’re not an entrepreneur then, you’re not an entrepreneur. If you’re an avid employee line then, you’re in the employee line. We don’t know what type of brains that are in power. Not necessarily power, but in terms of leading our position, right? So from that perspective sometimes we get around and I feel like you gotta have balance. Nobody’s coming with any programs to bring people together. It’s all political.”
Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson is a National hoops television analyst, writer, host and executive producer at Bally Sports Network. He’s also the host of the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
With stops as a staff writer at The Source Magazine and CBS Radio, he’s had previous stops as a host at Spotify, a Senior Writer at Heavy dot com, television analyst at MSG Networks and NBC Sports Network and a managing editor/columnist at RESPECT Magazine & Basketball Society.
A graduate of Eastern University, with a BA in Media Communication & Hofstra University with an MA in Journalism, he began his Journalism career at 12 years old hosting Nets Slammin’ Planet on AM Radio in NYC with the Nets.