Phil Jackson has at least one defender.
Scottie Pippen made waves just a few days ago when he said that the former Bulls and Lakers head coach was a racist, saying that Jackson’s reluctance to draw up a last-second shot for him during a 1994 playoff game vs. the Knicks, instead opting for Toni Kukoc, was a “racial move.”
But Robert Horry, former NBA champion and player under Jackson, came to the coach’s defense Wednesday on his “Big Shot Bob” podcast, saying that Jackson wasn’t, in fact, a racist.
“I’ve played for Phil. I don’t think Phil is racist,” Horry said. “He’s said some stuff before that kind of, I had to check him on it. For me, I don’t think he’s racist.”
Horry explained a time when Jackson may have crossed a line during a huddle once.
MORE: What Scottie Pippen said in controversial interview
“Phil was like, ‘You need to know the sign of your master’s voice,’ and I looked at him, and I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, we don’t do that. I’m from the South.”
Jackson responded: “I don’t mean it like that. I don’t mean it like that.”
Jackson, known by his nickname as the “Zen Master,” was probably leaning into that gimmick a bit, so it’s understandable if the situation was a bit of a communication breakdown.
Horry said that he understood what Jackson was trying to say, and he also understands that Pippen is dealing with some personal things in his life that may have him speaking from a place of pain and anger.
While Pippen didn’t name specific instances when Jackson was racist, he didn’t hesitate when being probed by Dan Patrick on Monday.
Patrick prodded: “By saying a racial move, you’re calling Phil a racist.”
Pippen responds: “I don’t got a problem with that.”
Patrick: “Do you think Phil was, or is?”
Pippen: “Oh, yeah.”