Mark Jackson is coaching the Warriors against the Clippers in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and as such, he’s been flung into the controversy surrounding Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist comments. Plenty of NBA luminaries have already weighed in, and as a former analyst for ABC and ESPN, Jackson is no stranger to expressing his opinion, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he offered a strong take on this flaming-hot topic.
But Jackson may have set himself up for accusations of self-interest by suggesting that fans of both teams stay away from Game 5 of the Warriors-Clippers series. That game will be played Tuesday at L.A.’s Staples Center, so poor attendance would certainly affect the Clippers’ home-court advantage. Here are Jackson’s remarks, as recorded by the San Jose Mercury News:
“The loudest statement to be made is not showing up,” Jackson said before practice Monday. “The noise of it not being tolerated, that this is a different time. It’s unfortunate, and we cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit.
“I can only tell you what I would do, and as an African American man that’s a fan of the game of basketball and knows its history and knows what’s right and what’s wrong, I would not come to the game tomorrow whether I was a Clippers fan or a Warriors fan in the Staples Center tomorrow.”
Jackson also said the players should still play with the series even at 2-2.
“The biggest statement would be playing and pouring our hearts out into something we’ve dreamt about doing and doing it in a way where no matter color what we are, we do this with class, dignity and integrity,” Jackson said.
While it remains to be seen what kind of crowd shows up in the arena for Game 5, a rally is planned to happen outside Staples Center. Clippers players already staged their own protest just before Game 4 of the series, when they wore their team-branded shirts inside-out during warmups.