Phil Jackson is considered by many to be the greatest coach in the history of the NBA due to his success with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. In Chicago, he was blessed to coach the duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen while with the Lakers, he had arguably an even more dominant pairing in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Despite his unbelievable success, winning 11 championships, there were some bumps along the way for Jackson in both stops. He famously had issues with Bryant during his first stint with the Lakers, revealing in a book he would write while away that he believed Kobe was uncoachable at that point in his career. That, of course, didn’t stop him from returning to the Lakers and winning two more rings with Bryant as the focal point.
But Pippen believes those issues with Bryant were part of a deeper issue for Jackson. While also noting his own issues with Jackson, Pippen said that he believes the coach was racist during an interview on The Dan Patrick Show:
DP: ".. By saying it was a racial move then you're calling Phil Jackson a racist…"
Pippen: "I don't have a problem with that."
DP: "Do you think Phil was?"
Pippen: "Oh yeah…"
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) June 28, 2021
In the video, Pippen used Bryant as an example for why he feels Jackson is racist:
“I mean, do you remember Phil Jackson left the Lakers, went wrote a book on Kobe Bryant, and then came back and coached him? I mean, who would do that? You name someone in professional sports that would do that, you know. I think he tried to expose Kobe in a way that he shouldn’t have. You’re the head coach and you’re the guy that sits in the locker room and tells the players, ‘This is a circle, and everything stays within the circle because that’s what team is about.’ But you as the head coach open it up? And now you go out and you try to belittle, at that time, probably one of the greatest players in the game?”
That is a serious allegation being made by Pippen and while no one knows exactly what is inside Jackson’s heart, Pippen will likely struggle to get a lot of people to agree with him on this idea. Pippen’s point on the book being written bashing Bryant, despite preaching the importance of things staying within the circle is a reasonable criticism, but as Patrick points out, that could have more to do with a loyalty issue than a racial one.
Pippen has been in the news a lot as of late due to his own tell-all book coming out soon, and has been making some controversial takes along the way. But accusing someone of being racist is a far bigger insult than any on the court criticisms.
Pippen believes Durant hasn’t surpassed James
One of the most notable recent takes from Pippen had to do with who is the current best player in the league. Following some unbelievable performances from Kevin Durant in the playoffs, which led many to give him the crown, Pippen blasted Durant, saying that he didn’t know how to play team basketball and believing that not only to be the reason why the Nets fell in the second round of the playoffs but also why he has yet to surpass LeBron James.
Pippen would also go on to make other claims about Durant’s teammates being the reason he has championships, which is an entirely different discussion. But as far as who holds the crown now, the debate between James and Durant will continue to wage on.
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