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.

Phoenix Suns Star Steve Nash Speaks Out Against Arizona Immigration Law

Posted by Michael Pollak on Wed, May 05, 2010 @ 11:26 AM
Most athletes try to steer clear of politics, but Superstar Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns embraces the opportunity.   Nash was a guest on ESPN's PTI and when asked about Arizona's tough, new immigration law, he said that he opposes the law and 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."
 
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The Phoenix Suns will wear "Los Suns" on their jerseys in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night, owner Robert Sarver said, "to honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation."

The decision to wear the jerseys on the Cinco de Mayo holiday stems from a law passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer that has drawn widespread criticism from Latino organizations and civil rights groups that say it could lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. President Barack Obama has called the law "misguided."

Sarver, who was born and raised in Tucson, said frustration with the federal government's failure to deal with the illegal immigration issue led to the passage of what he called "a flawed state law."

"However intended, the result of passing the law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question," he said, "and Arizona's already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them."

The measure makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally, and it directs local police to question people about their immigration status and demand to see their documents if there is reason to suspect they are illegal.

The controversy surrounding the law has led to picketing at some road games of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks and a call from the Rev. Jesse Jackson for major league baseball to move next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix.

Sarver came up with the "Los Suns" jersey idea but left it up to the players for the final decision, Suns guard Steve Nash said, and all of them were for it.

"I think it's fantastic," Nash said after Tuesday's practice. "I think the law is very misguided. I think it's, unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties. I think it's very important for us to stand up for things we believe in. As a team and as an organization, we have a lot of love and support for all of our fans. The league is very multicultural. We have players from all over the world, and our Latino community here is very strong and important to us."

Nash was born in South Africa and moved with his parents to Victoria, British Columbia, when he was 1½ years old. He was one of four Canadians to light the torch in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics this year.

The Suns wore the "Los Suns" jerseys twice in the regular season, and won both games.

 

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