On Monday afternoon, the Grizzlies sent shockwaves through the NBA world when they decided to part ways with their head coach David Fizdale. Memphis is currently in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, which makes the team’s decision to fire Fizdale sort of understandable. But they’re also playing without star Mike Conley at the moment and they’re just months removed from a respectable playoff run, so Fizdale’s firing felt a little premature.
That’s the way former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Stephen Jackson saw things, at least. He doesn’t believe Fizdale deserved to lose his job. So shortly after he found out about it, he took to Instagram and accused Memphis of jumping the gun, while also letting off a shot at Grizzlies player Chandler Parsons. Jackson put up a post alluding to the fact that Parsons hasn’t lived up to the four-year, $94 million contract he signed in 2016.
"S/O Coach Fizdale," Jackson wrote in his caption for the post. "U can’t want it more than the players u coach. Can’t go to war with no soldiers. How u expect him to win with no dogs on his team and PG hurt. Fixed fight if u tell me. Fire Chandler Parsons."
Subsequent reports indicated Fizdale’s fractured relationship with Grizzlies star Marc Gasol was actually to blame for his departure from the team. But Jackson either didn’t know about that report as of last night or simply didn’t care about it. Either way, he continued to go in on the Grizzlies and Parsons in a video he posted on IG.
"That was a fixed fight, man," he said in the clip. "You can’t expect a coach to win with guys that don’t even care about the game. You get rid of Zach [Randolph], you get rid of Tony Allen… When you trade players like that, you lose the heart of the team… You got players making $100 million [and] average 9 points."
Eventually, Parsons—who has sustained a series of injuries over the last couple years—got wind of what Jackson was saying about him and responded to him right on Instagram. He posted a comment on one of Jackson’s posts and accused him of putting the blame on the wrong person.
"It’s wild to me that someone who has been in my shoes, knows how hard it is to get here, and knows how bad injuries suck, to hate so hard," Parsons wrote. "You mad i can provide for my family? i don’t love the game cuz i had 3 knee surgeries? u make no sense and sound bitter. nba is a brotherhood. stop hatin."
Clearly never one to bite his tongue, Jackson wasted no time in getting back at Parsons. He told him not to compare their stories and also pointed out that they aren’t cool simply because they both play basketball.
"U not my brother," Jackson wrote. "Sorry all basketball players ain’t cool facts. I’ve been better than u and still is. The fact is it sucks to see guys make coaches look bad because they don’t wanna give 110 percent. I love the game. Always have. We didn’t take the same path. We are completely diff. It’s not a brotherhood like u think as much as I’ve been hated bkuz I speak facts. Anybody would want me over u as a teammate. I hate to see where the game is headed. I’m from Port Arthur Tx u wouldn’t know the path I took."
Jackson also posted another video and explained his position on Parsons and the Grizzlies further.
Parsons stopped responding after that, but Jackson plays a prominent role in ESPN’s NBA coverage these days so we wouldn’t expect him to stop here. He has left Parsons alone for the time being on IG, but we’d guess he will have more to say about all of this during his next on-air appearance.
In the meantime, it’s unclear if Parsons will play for the Grizzlies when they take on the Spurs on Wednesday night. He left a game against the Nets on Sunday with right knee tightness. But if he does play, you can expect for Jackson’s IG sniping to be firmly implanted in the back of his head when he takes the court, and in the long run, Jackson may have actually done Parsons a favor by calling him out so publicly.