Stephen Jackson apologized Wednesday night for using what he said were the “wrong words” in defending DeSean Jackson, but the former NBA player told CNN that what he said a day earlier should not be misinterpreted as support for anti-Semitism.
“As I first stated when I got on here, I could’ve changed my words,” Jackson told CNN. “But there’s nothing that said that I support any of that. There’s nothing that I said that I hate anybody.”
Jackson received criticism throughout Wednesday for saying that DeSean Jackson was “speaking the truth” with his social media posts in recent days that included an anti-Semitic message that he attributed to Adolf Hitler.
Stephen Jackson took to Instagram on Tuesday night to defend the Eagles’ receiver, saying in part: “You know he don’t hate nobody, but he’s speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others.” In the Instagram video, which was later deleted, Jackson did not mention Hitler or anti-Semitism, but he did speak of social injustice and police brutality and how “none of you NFL owners spoke up on that.” Jackson also spoke about Riley Cooper, the white receiver who shouted a racial slur at a Black security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert in 2013. Cooper was fined by the Eagles and apologized, then was signed to a five-year extension by the team the following year.
The Eagles called DeSean Jackson’s posts “absolutely appalling” on Tuesday. The receiver later apologized multiple times.
“Maybe I could’ve been more clear of what I thought DeSean was correct about, but I didn’t feel the need to go into a conversation that me and him had about how they were treating him and Riley Cooper,” Stephen Jackson told CNN. “I could’ve 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. That’s why I didn’t speak on Hitler or even speak on his post. I spoke on exactly what I agreed with, and they was handling him different than they was handling Cooper. That’s the end of it. They can twist it how they want, but that’s exactly what it is. I don’t hate nobody.”
Jackson, who retired from the NBA in 2014 after playing 14 seasons and winning a championship with San Antonio in 2003, has been a voice for social activism since the death of his friend George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.
“I’ve been out here fighting for justice and equality,” Jackson told CNN. “And I was speaking on equality — why they wasn’t handling Cooper and DeSean Jackson any other way. Like I said, they can twist it how they want to. You didn’t hear a word out of my mouth saying, ‘I hate Jews.’ You didn’t hear a word out of my mouth saying, ‘I’m supporting Hitler.’ They can twist it how they want. I don’t hate nobody. I’ve been standing up for everybody. I’mma continue to. And that’s just the end of it.”
A former NBA analyst for ESPN, Jackson played in the Big3 in 2018 and ’19 (the 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic) and now helps host the “All The Smoke” video podcast on Showtime.
Earlier Wednesday, Showtime addressed Stephen Jackson’s initial comments about DeSean Jackson.
“Regardless of his intentions, Stephen’s comments were hurtful and inconsistent with the values espoused by this network,” it said in a statement.