Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

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)

I've never cared about pro basketball but suddenly I have a reason to root for the Lakers. Go Phil Jackson! Don't let the illegal lobby bully you.

Not to worry, Phil ... you have the REAL fans on your side.

Politics should not be part of the NBA, and you are entitled to your personal opinion, which the majority of Americans agree with.

Why is this even news?

Phil Jackson is sensible and smart seeing his way past the boycott hysterics and respecting the right of any state to do what is lawful. We'll all see that on July 23rd.

why does a basketball team need to state their views on immigrations laws....if they said they were for the arizona laws would you then protest the laker games? lol get a life and understand that people in this country are tired of fighting for the rights of illeglas when the rights for legals appear to be going away!!

if you are a citizen with legal papers why would you worry about the law....unless you have family here illegally...if you are breaking the law (federal law and now enforced by the state) then you have no right to protest the enforcement of it!!!!


I'm fed up with only hearing from the far left or right. Listen extremists, WE DON'T AGREE WITH ANY OF YOU! 80% of American people are centrists and we are fed up with the loonies taking over our government and constantly whining about things you have no clue as to what you are demonstating/argueing about. Shut up, sit down, and listen for a change.

All Phil is saying is that the basketball court is not the place to make a political statement and that Arizona is choosing to address its illegal immigration problem. He never said he agrees or disagrees with it. Also, people are free to protest or not protest Arizona's new law and those who choose not to protest should not be labeled a racist or unsympathetic because they choose not to do it at work. The basketball court is his place of business. Honestly, how many of us go to work spouting off our politics to all that will hear us. If you do, you will not have your job for long. Those protesting Phil, lay off of him and direct your energy to the Arizona law creating this controversy.

I'm so sick and tired of people being labeled "racist" for being against illegal immigration. Isn't that a racist attitude itself? Who says only Latinos are illegal immigrants? How is being against illegal immigration being anti-Latino? There are Asian illegal immigrants and Caucasian illegal immigrants. Being against illegal immigration is just that being against "ILLEGAL" immigration - not against "LEGAL" immigration and not being anti-Latino - just against "ILLEGAL" immigration.

Another thing. Phil is in the solid majority of people who support the law.

Pew Hispanic Center poll.

59% approve of Arizona's law.
32% disapprove.

73% approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them.
23% disapprove.

67% approve of allowing police to detain anyone who cannot verify their legal status.
29% disapprove.

62% approve of allowing police to question people they think may be in the country illegally.
35% disapprove.

So even among the Democrats there is much support for the Arizona law.

"The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted May 6-9 among 994 adults, finds that Democrats are evenly split over Arizona’s new immigration law: 45% approve of the law and 46% disapprove. However, majorities of Democrats approve of two of the law’s principal provisions: requiring people to produce documents verifying legal status (65%) and allowing police to detain anyone unable to verify their legal status (55%)"


Way to go, Phil.
While I am not a Laker nor Phil Jackson fan particularly, I certainly agree with his comments.
As for Gonzales, please-- give it a rest, or more specifically, sit down and shut up!

As a long time "Laker hater" I now have newfound respect for Coach Jackson. All the illegal alien activists should read the AZ law before inciting the public and spreading racially motivated propaganda.

"There are nuances here that Phil Jackson perhaps is not familiar with. He’s an expert at basketball but not at immigration law.”

He's not an expert in immigration law yet you want his opinion. Uhhh, yeah, nice logic there.

I'm not an expert in immigration law either but I do know this: If you come to this country ILLEGALLY you are BREAKING THE LAW. Therefore you are a criminal and should be prosecuted and sent back to your country of origin. If you want to come to the USA do it legally! What is so hard to understand about that?

You are with us or against us. Sounds familiar.?? Nazi Germany. Since when team players of any sport have to declare they political views. (that was a requirement in Nazi Germany and Soviet Union) Are we there yet?

You have two families: "Joe Legal" and "Jose Illegal".
Both families have two parents, two children, and live in California.

Joe Legal works in construction, has a Social Security Number and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted.

Jose Illegal also works in construction, has NO Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash "under the table".

Ready? Now pay attention...

Joe Legal: $25.00 per hour x 40 hours = $1000.00 per week, or $52,000.00 per year. Now take 30% away for state and federal tax; Joe Legal now has

Jose Illegal: $15.00 per hour x 40 hours = $600.00 per week, or $31,200.00 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes. Jose Illegal now has

Joe Legal pays medical and dental insurance with limited coverage for
his family at $600.00 per month, or $7,200.00 per year. Joe Legal now
has $24,031.00.

Jose Illegal has full medical and dental coverage through the state and local clinics at a cost of $0.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays $500.00 per month for food, or $6,000.00 per
year. Joe Legal now has $18,031.00.

Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for food stamps and welfare. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays rent of $1,200.00 per month, or $14,400.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $9,631.00.

Jose Illegal receives a $500.00 per month federal rent subsidy. Jose Illegal pays out that $500.00 per month, or $6,000.00 per year. Jose Illegal still has $ 31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 for insurance. Joe Legal now has $7,231.00.

Jose Illegal says, "We don't need no stinkin' insurance!" and still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal has to make his $7,231.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, etc.

Jose Illegal has to make his $31,200.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, and what he sends out of the country every month.

Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work.

Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.

Joe Legal's and Jose Illegal's children both attend the same school. Joe Legal pays for his children's lunches while Jose Illegal's children get a government sponsored lunch. Jose Illegal's children have an after school ESL program. Joe Legal's children go home.

Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same police and fire services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.

Do you get it, now?

If you vote for or support any politician that supports illegal

You are part of the problem!

This isn't about the Lakers, so why make it??? I guess these people have NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH THEIR TIME!!!!! Arizona is only trying to do something because Obama isn't doing ANYTHING. PERIOD

Who cares what a bunch of illegals say anyway!

Nativo Lopez, isn't he in jail for fraud yet?
'Nuances in the law!!!", I have a green card worked hard to get it and this idiot things there are nuances in the law!

the surest way to generate controversy is to tell the truth, and Phil Jackson is truthful and correct that the Arizona law mimics existing federal immigration law.

And of course the Times couldn't resist labeling the Arizona law "incendiary." To whom? Lawbreakers?

Anu hit it on the head. . .

You break the laws of this country - you are a criminal. The only problem is that these weenies in Fed can't and don't want to control the borders in lieu of their own self preservation.

I'm done with all the protests! How about you protest breaking the laws, gangs, murders, drugs, human trafficking, prostitution, lack of education, inability to speak English, having 10 kids per family, sucking up the resources of the taxpayers. How about that?

You go Phil Jackson!! Sports needs to stay out of illegal immigration. All AZ is doing is implementing federal laws. Every state should be doing the same since the federal government does not have the balls to. I am sick and tired of these cities voting to boycotts of AZ. We have too many problems here to worry about going to AZ. All that will do is harm the workers who are here legally. We need to vote out each & every incumbent in upcoming elections. We maybe would not be in such financial ruin if we did not pay for all the illegals here & if a baby is born on US soil to an illegal not allow them to be a u.s. citizen, that is ridiculous. The "government" needs to put pressure on mexicos government to improve their treatment of their citizens & not rely on the u.s. to do it.

I agree with Phil!

Boycott Illegal Immigrants!

Latinos are giving themselves a worse name than they already have.

somehow I don't see jackson caving in to political correctness and latino attempts at racist intimidation....
Arizona's laws are legitimate.

Too many in this country have turned a blind eye to america's unofficial "open borders" policy for too long in the name of making a buck

« | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 12 13 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: