Stephen Jackson is responsible for arguably the NBA’s biggest controversy since the Donald Sterling saga.
A former NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs, Jackson recently made comments which many viewed as anti-Semitic. Jackson defended Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, who posted an anti-Semitic message on Instagram that he attributed to Adolf Hitler.
Although Jackson doesn’t play in the NBA anymore, he’s very respected by veteran and younger players alike. Many of those same players often speak out against social injustice, which makes their silence on Jackson’s comments surprising.
Stephen Jackson defended DeSean Jackson’s anti-Semitic comments
For background, Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson posted several offensive messages on Instagram. One picture included a quote falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler which said Jewish people would “extort [and] blackmail Americans.”
The quote does not actually come from Hitler, according to Snopes.
DeSean Jackson issued several apologies for those posts. The Eagles called Jackson’s comments “offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling” in a statement.
It appeared Stephen Jackson (no relation) initially defended DeSean Jackson’s comments. The older Jackson said the Eagles receiver was “speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others.”
Stephen Jackson also criticized the Eagles for how they handled that situation compared to Riley Cooper’s in 2013. Cooper, a white receiver, used the n-word on video at a concert and received a fine, but no suspension or release.
Stephen Jackson apologized for his offensive remarks
In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Jackson apologized for using the “wrong words.”
“I could have changed those words, but the people that know me, my Jewish friends that I talked to today, they know that the last thing I was spewing was to defend Hitler or any other post.”
Jackson’s employer, Showtime, called his comments “hurtful and inconsistent with the values espoused by this network.” Showtime had not announced any punishment for Jackson as of publication.
ESPN’s Rachel Nichols tweeted she was “disappointed” in Jackson’s comments. Jackson frequently appeared alongside Nichols on The Jump in the past.
Nichols said Jackson hasn’t worked for the network “for a while now.”
The NBA’s biggest stars have been silent on Jackson’s comments
Consider the following names: Trae Young; Kelly Oubre Jr.; Josh Hart; and Miles Bridges.
That isn’t a list of players who will earn All-NBA honors after the season. It also isn’t a ranking of players with the best chances at scoring 100 points in the NBA’s restart.
Those four players are among those in the NBA who criticized Saints quarterback Drew Brees after his controversial flag comments in early-June, according to Clutch Points.
Brees said he would “never agree” with NFL players who chose to kneel for the national anthem. Young tweeted: “Wow.” Oubre, a Saints fan, called Brees’ comments “tone-deaf.”
Brees acknowledged his comments were ignorant. But it’s interesting and telling that NBA players were quick to tweet about Brees’ offensive comments, yet haven’t said anything about Stephen Jackson.
Although Jackson last played an NBA game in 2014, he’s still around the sport. Wizards guards Bradley Beal and John Wall, Celtics star Jayson Tatum, and Trae Young have all appeared on Jackson’s “All The Smoke” podcast since April. None have said anything about Jackson’s remarks.
Silence can be interpreted in many ways. It’s clear the younger generation of players respect Jackson both for his playing and post-basketball career.
Those same players want to make their voices heard about injustice. But when they have nothing to say about a popular ex-player attacking an entire group of people, then they’ve failed at that goal.