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Activists protest Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's comments on Arizona's new immigration law

 Immigration activists gather outside Staples Center in response to comments by Lakers coach Phil Jackson.Activists outraged at comments made by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson that seem to back Arizona’s controversial new immigration law plan to rally outside Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles before Monday’s playoff opener against the Phoenix Suns.

“The way we look at it, Phil Jackson is supporting the Arizona law,” said Mario Gonzalez, a longtime Lakers fan and rally organizer. “That’s surprising. It caught us off guard. We want to find out where the team stands on the law.”

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2009/01/27/jackson.jpgJohn Black, the Lakers' vice president for public relations, did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

Sparking the furor are remarks made by Jackson to ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande in which the Lakers coach seems to back the incendiary Arizona law, which allows local police to check citizens documents and arrest them if they don't have them.

“Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard [the legislature] say, ‘We just took the United States immigration law and adopted it to our state?’” Jackson said of the Arizona statute.

The Lakers coach then disputed the columnist’s assertion that Arizona legislatures had “usurped” federal immigration law -- an allegation widely made by critics who say the law could lead to racial profiling of Latinos.

Supporters say the state law complements federal statutes and deny any intent to target Latinos.

“It’s not usurping” federal law, Jackson replied, adding that the Arizona lawmakers “gave it some teeth to be able to enforce it.”

Jackson, long known as a free spirit who in Adande’s words “has showed lefty leanings in the past,” also seems to chastise the Suns’ management for its criticism of the Arizona law.

The Suns’ owner and several players have publicly criticized the statute.

“I don’t think teams should get involved in the political stuff,” Jackson told the ESPN.com columnist. “If I heard it right, the American people are really for stronger immigration laws, if I’m not mistaken. Where we stand as basketball teams, we should let that kind of play out and let the political end of that go where it’s going to go.”

Gonzalez, the protest organizer, said Monday’s rally was not meant as a call to boycott the Lakers or root against the L.A. squad in its push to repeat as league champions. Rather, he said, the action is aimed at condemning Jackson’s apparent support for the Arizona law and clarifying Lakers management’s opinion on the matter.

“We want to know the team and Phil Jackson’s opinion on the law,” Gonzalez said.

Supporters of the rally said they wanted to give Jackson and the Lakers the opportunity to clarify their position on the Arizona law. Activists voiced the hope that both the Lakers and Jackson would follow the Suns’ example and come out against Arizona’s plan.

“We want to give Phil Jackson the benefit of the doubt,” said Nativo Lopez, head of the Mexican American Political Assn. “There are nuances here that Phil Jackson perhaps is not familiar with. He’s an expert at basketball but not at immigration law.”

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photos: KTLA News; L.A. Times file

Comments () | Archives (320)

Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!

We support you Phil !!

Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!
Go Lakers!

All these accusations have been said before about german, irish and italian immigrants its nothing new scapegoating an underpriviliged group i guess if "White americans" support racial profiling that settles it . This law is a little ironic because the so called "small government conservatives" that support it are hurting business which they claim to support the fact is illegals are not taking american jobs which explains why illegal immigration has dropped dramatically in the past 3 years at the same time the unemployment rate has skyrocketed, and second around 9% of arizonas workforce is composed of illegals ok if you kick all of them out you will destroy the arizona economy and all the businesses. i cant stand bigoted hypocrites

1. How does Basketball fit in with politics?

2. Everyone has their own opinion. Just because you agree or disagree with a certain law doesn't change the person you are.

3. One year you vote for Rep. and another year you vote for Dem. Does that mean you have split personality disorder?

4. Why does it matter for all there people protesting what the Lakers players think and feel about this new law?

Seriously, if they agree or disagree doesn't change a thing in any way, shape or form.

It just shows how pointless this entire thing is. The protest has nothing to do with the law - AT ALL!

It just has to do with the idea that the Lakers players should come out and say "We don't support this law" and everyone is happy and everyone goes home.

Phil says he is for it and he gets called out on it. It is like saying you like the color green and someone questioning you as to why. It's an opinion and everyone has their own views on it. If we all had the same stand on every topic we would not be in this situation to begin with.

It is unbelievable how stup!d people can be.

What a waste of everyones time.

Only reason I posted is because of how upset I am with peoples stup!dity all the time.

I am Arizona resident and long-time Suns fan. Your Lakers coach has more intelligence than Suns management and most of the team, including Nash. I am cheering for the Lakers to win.

I have no beef with “illegals” trying to get into the United States anyway they can – most of us would do the same thing in their situation - and I have no problem with them being here until they show up at some county office trying to collect something for nothing. If you let the government do your stealing for you, it’s called redistribution. If you cut out the middleman, it’s called, well, stealing. Either way, though, it’s still stealing.

What is really amazing – even for the thieves - is the Reconquista movement. The Reconquistas are so confused that while the prospect of staying in, and working to develop and improve, their own Latin American country is unthinkable, as soon as they land in the United States, they want to “take it over” and turn into the same impoverished and corrupt oligarchy from which they just escaped. Now how much sense does that make?

The only explanation is that the Reconquistas are so blinded by racism that they just want to see somebody who more or less looks like them in charge… even if that means giving up the freedom and opportunity they came here seeking the first place.

The protesters have a right to free speech--as does Phil Jackson. And he's right on this. The Arizona law simply gives Arizona the authority to enforce the federal law. If the federal govt enforced its own immigration laws, there would be no need for the Arizona law.

“We want to know the team and Phil Jackson’s opinion on the law,” Mario Gonzalez said.

Well, Mario, Phil Jackson apparently supports the rule of law. There you have it. Now go and support law-breaking if you like, but Arizona SB1170 is here to stay and a consensus of American support it. Bye bye.

I am Hispanic, Union and a Democrat.

I support the enforcement of immigration laws.

Looks like it's time to vote Republican on this issue alone.

These activists are getting desperate....so they want to silence those whose (right) opinions are opposite from theirs? They want to censure those saying "Arizona law only mirrors that of the federal law"?

Just because people don't break a law, does not mean that law enforcement officials will not either: Pull them over, ask them questions, or harass them in any other way, shape, or form. Giving the law enforcement basically, the power of the federal government, is arming them with even more weapons than they already have in an obviously border-conscious and conservative state. In these modern times, arming potential racists with such a power is a huge political blunder.

I am a resident of LA county, and am a huge Lakers fan. I've never liked Phil Jackson as a coach, for his coaching decisions. Now I dont like him as a person. Of course, as many have been interviewed on the news and conclude: Sports should not be mixed with Politics. Thing is, our favorite athletes and athletic figureheads are like celebrities. Remember when Mel Gibson and Michael Richards came under fire for this 'n' that?

Good thing Jackson's contract is over, and there's not yet any news of re-signing. Hopefully he changes his views, apologizes, or just doesn't get resigned, because MANY Lakers fans are Latinos. (I'm not Latino by the way, but many of my peers, co-workers, and neighbors are, and they're HUGE Lakers fans too.

**Los Suns vs the Lakers** ..The Irony..

It's GAME OVER for illegals. Time to go home.

I NEVER EVER thought I would do this...root for the Lakers.

We are racist if we support the current immigration laws of this country. I guess that means the only non-racist people support open borders. It is a very sad day when supporting the laws of this country makes you a racist.

Oh Phil, Phil, Phil....Why did you go and open your mouth in a city where Latinos are the majority? Do you really want to get involved in politics here? Just do what you do best and coach.

If only California had the guts to pass a law like the one in Arizona. People are sick and tired of illegals breaking the law by coming in to this country, then sucking away my tax dollars to pay for there numerous kids.

By the way I am an American of Mexican descent.

Nativo Lopez want to give Jackson the benefit of the doubt? Phil statement was very clear, AZ is doing the job that the Federal Government is not doing. Mr. Lopez needs to open his eyes and accept the fact that US citizens are fed up with illegals and their demands to be to give them everything they want.

Sports fans who support the law across the nation and the governments efforts to rectify the national crisis of illegal immigration should be unified and willing to support the teams who do not cave in to the boycotting pressures and boycott those who do cave in to this strong arm political tactic. The law is on our side not theirs.

The battle line has been drawn.

Mr. Jackson is entitled to his own personel opinion.
Seems like none of the those protesters have read the Arizona law.
This law has nothing to do with sports unless one of the
players is an illegal, then that person should get deported.

I have canceled my summer trip to San Diego and planned a new one to the mountains of Utah. No more Napa wine for me. Try out the Australian wines from Costco. Thanks Calif, I never would have switched wines but now will never buy the overpriced and inferior California wines again.

Yeah Phil's right sports and politics don't mix, Ask the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I bet most of you AZ supporters would love if that never happened.

The ridiculous protestors, such as Loyda Alvarado (photo above), stand in support of law breaking. Phil Jackson has a right to his own opinion, and they want to censor free speech for what? Illegal aliens!!!!

Boycott Arizona or better yet just give it to Mexico. There is nothing there anyway.

Go Phil, Go!!

An intelligent response at last from someone who appears to know the law as opposed to our dimwit Attorney General who condemns it without having read it. Our President and Head of Homeland Security appear just as ignorant of the law, too. Par for this administration.

who are these morons that want more low life chusma to come into this country? oh yeah, the morons whose jobs, if they have any, are going to be taken away by the illegal hords.hey nativo lopez, how do you earn your living? maybe the la times can find out for us. has he ever paid taxes? inquiring minds want to know.

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