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Dozens protest Lakers coach Phil Jackson's comments on Arizona immigration law

Several dozen protesters waving signs and American flags demonstrated outside Staples Center before Monday’s Lakers-Phoenix Suns game, calling on Lakers coach Phil Jackson to denounce Arizona’s new anti-illegal immigration law.

Among those at Monday’s protest were 15 Los Angeles High School students brought by their teacher, Rodney Lusain. He teaches history to 10th- and 11-graders and said his classes are currently studying immigration and protest. Lusain said he wanted to bring his students to the demonstration “so they get to see the power of protest.”

Jackson, responding to criticism for his comments about Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration, released a statement Monday saying he has “respect” for those who are opposing the law.

“I’ve been involved in a number of progressive political issues over the years and I support those who stand up for their beliefs. It is what makes this country great,” he said in his statement.

“I have respect for those who oppose the new Arizona immigration law, but I am wary of putting entire sports organizations in the middle of political controversies. This was the message of my statement. I know others feel differently, even in the Lakers organization, but it was a personal statement. In this regard, it is my wish that this statement not be used by either side to rally activists.”

Sparking the furor are remarks made by Jackson to ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande in which the Lakers coach seems to back the Arizona law, which makes it a state crime to lack immigration papers and requires police to determine whether people they stop are in the country illegally.

“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 the Arizona Legislature 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.

--Robert J. Lopez at Staples Center and Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo: Michael Novick of Los Angeles, left, protests with others outside of Staples Center against Lakers coach Phil Jackson's recent comments saying that he wasn't for or against Arizona's newly passed immigration law, gets into a verbal exchange with Mark Steven of Santa Ana, who is in support of the law. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (62)

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would object to a governor protecting her own state — and doing so by following the federal immigration law, which specifically gives the states the right to legislate what the fed has failed to do.

I’ve never yet heard a good reason why illegals should be immune to the law. Citizens aren’t.

I’ve yet to hear a good reason why illegals should be allowed to enter this country at THEIR will rather than by abiding by OUR rules of entry.

And what could be more ironic than demonstrations by law-breakers insisting on their “rights”? They have the right to return home unharmed, but that’s about it.


You're right. There is no need to politicize basketball.

Keep the street protests in the streets and leave sports alone so that we can at least have that bastion free from those that want to politicize everything.

Give it a rest, fellas.

Dozens protest Lakers coach Phil Jackson's comments...
millions cheer

only a dozen protesters? and why is a teacher wasting time taking his kids to see this, when we need to be competitive with all up and coming Asian nations that are surpassing us in technology and science.

Mr. Lopez, Get a clue.


Who really cares???!!!! Get a grip, dont bring politics into sports you idiot!! I am a latino and came to this country at an early age from Brazil! I came here the right way and became a citizen the rt way!! I am for the SB1070 in Arizona!

I guess we should go around and question all of the various coaches about their views on the new AZ law and also get their other political opinions...

This is crazy....but funny...

dozens of morons? protesting the law of the land. deport them.


I don't understand the activists expecting P. Jackson to "denounce" AZ.

But more important, the school district should fire the teacher that took his students to the "protest" so they could see the "power of protest ."
He has abused the educational system and imposed his bias on his students.
Did their parents approve of this??

Amazing what these guys will do to create a spectacle.

Phil should keep his stupid mouth shut, pehaps its time for a new coach in L.A.

I am so tired of this. These immigrants (and not just the mexicans) have had the opportunity to become citizens and whatever their reasoning they have decided not to. Well, if that is the case then they either need to fish or cut bait. No more sitting on the fence post deciding what side you are on. Get it done, that's all Arizona is saying, and if you don't then there is a rent due for sitting on that fence post. End of story!

Mr Jackson, you are on my hero list! All legal imagrants Back Arizonas
call for HELP!

If Phil was expressing one of his notable liberal opinions, the libs would have NO problem with it...so spare us the hypocrisy on this issue, take the good with the bad.

15 Los Angeles High School 'activists' were a among the 'dozens' protesting outside Staples Center?

Perhaps if teacher Rodney Lusain made a more sincere effort at helping Los Angeles High School's students reach grade level standards instead of hauling them off to a gathering of protesters there would not be a drop out rate at -his- high school that exceeds 60%. Students dropout when they fall so far behind in their academics that simply passing CAHSEE is an impossible task. At that point school is no longer relevent to them. LAHS seems to excel at that.

Phil Jackson is right on many levels. The Lakers should not be used as a political pawn, and the AZ law merely reinforces the federal law. Laws are obviously something that illegal aliens from Mexico "no understand."

To live in a civilized society, we can't pick and choose which laws we will follow. These illegal aliens need to stop protesting and demanding things from the U.S. and take their butts and anchor babies back to Mexico and demand that their own country do something for them.

They are not undocumented, they are not immigrants, they are ILLEGAL ALIENS.

China shoots and kills its illegals, Arizona merely sends them on their way home!!!!

God bless Arizona!!!

Boycott California!

Props to the Lakers organization for its decision not to wear the Los Lakers jerseys during the playoffs or making any political statements on the issue. If politico Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver spent as much time and energy building a championship team as he does sending political messages and making political statements, the Suns would already have won an NBA championship ring by now.

I support Phil Jackson and America's laws.

Good for him. Some common sense although I doubt the entitlement sucking illegals will appreciate it, maybe some true Americans will see the merit in keeping sports out of this.

There were less then 20 people other reporters stated on the news. Could it be word got out the organizer Nativo Lopez president of the Mexican American Political Assoc. who has been arrested for 4 felonies and is due back in court tomorrow. He is accused by the District Attorney and Calif. Secretary of State of fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury and fraudulent voting. A warrant was issued for his arrest and bail was set at $10,000. The offenses carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Phil Jackson is running for office? No? Then who cares what he says. His opinion. Leave him only.

wow dozens...call the TV stations also..

Let me get this straight. Some people were actually out there protesting over a pro basketball coach's position over another state's illegal immigration law?

Wow! The economy must really be bad. Get a life, losers, and do something worthwhile with your time. Like playing in traffic. Or even better...go over to Arizona and protest there!

Or are you afraid to go?

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