When Immigration Matters

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson Stokes Immigration Debate

Posted by Michael Pollak on Mon, May 17, 2010 @ 9:40 AM

Nothing like one of the NBA's greatest coaches and most recognizable personalities adding a little fuel to the immigration embrolio.  In fact, the timing couldn't be any better as "Los Suns" face Jackson's Lakers in the NBA Western Conference Finals.

Nash's comments on Arizona's tough, new immigration law as a guest on ESPN's PTI triggered intense reaction.  Steve NashNash opposes the law and said that it "damages our civil liberties...it opens up the potential for racial profiling and racism...I think that it is a bad precedent to set for our young people.  I think it represents our state poorly in the eyes of the nation and the world.  I think we have a lot of great attributes here and I think that it's something that we could do without and I think it hopefully will change a lot in the coming weeks."

Phil JacksonSo the Zen Master and spiritual soul who believes in the importance of all living things, supports the Suns' actions and Nash's views, right?  Oh contraire...In a conversation with ESPN.com's J.A. Adande recently, Jackson,  indicated he had no problem with Arizona's tough, new immigration law (Senate Bill 1070).

"Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard [the legislature] say ‘we just took the United States immigration law and adapted it to our state,'" Jackson said.

I told him they usurped the federal law. "It's not usurping, it's just copying it is what they said they did, and then they gave it some teeth to be able to enforce it," Jackson said. [...]

"I don't think teams should get involved in the political stuff. And I think this one's still kind of coming out to balance as to how it's going to be favorably looked upon by our public. 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."

It's fascinating and bit hypocritical that a guy who publicly has approached the game with a deeper sense of purpose and seems to understand the importance of the world beyond the sport is taking the position that the Suns should focus on the court and steer clear of the political landscape.

Whichever side of the debate you support and/or whichever team you support, this should make for some great basketball and bring even more attention to a controversial issue that needs a significant overhaul.

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