Boycott Phil Jackson: Why Lakers Fans should Root for Los Suns

The community of Los Angeles has made it crystal clear where they stand on Arizona’s controversial Senate Bill 1070, which sanctifies racial profiling as state law. The LA city council voted 13-1 to “ban most city travel there and to forgo future business contracts with companies headquartered in the state.” The Los Angeles Times Editorial Page called for the moving of the 2011 Major League Baseball All Star game from Phoenix writing, “A new law in Arizona seems almost certain to lead to racial profiling against Latinos, violating the American values so integral to baseball.”


Yes, Los Angeles is standing as one against Arizona’s spastic extremism. Everyone in Los Angeles, that is, except for iconic Los Angeles Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson.  In an interview with ESPN, Jackson spoke in support of SB 1070 saying, “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.’” When sports reporter J.A. Adande remarked that SB 1070 actually represented “the usurping of federal law,” Jackson responded, “It’s not usurping…. they gave it some teeth to be able to enforce it.”


He then chided his upcoming playoff opponent, the Phoenix Suns, for coming out as a team – from owner to players - against the bill. “I don’t think teams should get involved in the political stuff,” Jackson said. “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.”


Yes, Phil Jackson in the same breath, supported this draconian bill and then blasted the Suns for making a political statement about it. That’s what my grandmother would have called “cheek.” Jackson’s words have sparked a petition campaign by the group which reads, “Coach Jackson, Stand with Los Angeles. The city just denounced Arizona's hateful law and so should you. Targeting people based on their skin color isn't ‘giving [the law] teeth’. It's a backwards and terrible step on the wrong side of history.  On or off the court, there's no room for haters. Los Lakers need to take a stand with the fans.”


There is also a call to protest outside the Staples Center on May 17th before game one of the Lakers Western conference championship series against Los Suns. It states,


“What if during a basketball Game in Arizona, Lakers Fans get questioned about their immigration status? Protest outside Staples Center on Monday May17th, at 5pm to denounce Lakers Coach Phil Jackson for his support of Racist Arizona bill SB1070. We all know that a great deal of our community members support the Lakers. ….People want the LAKERS to take a stand or for Phil Jackson to clarify his position on the racist bill that criminalizes fans.”


Phil Jackson has a reputation for being some sort of liberal. But he’s really more of a cliché: the 1960s flower child who has made the lucrative journey from rebel to reactionary.   It was Phil Jackson when the NBA passed dress code requirements for players, who lectured, "I don't mean to say [this] as a snide remark toward a certain population in our society, but they have a limitation of their attention span, a lot of it probably due to too much rap music going in their ears and coming out their being….The players have been dressing in prison garb the last five or six years. All the stuff that goes on, it's like gangster, thuggery stuff.”


This is Phil Jackson: if you dress a certain way, you must be some sort of criminal thug. If you look a certain way, police have every right to demand your papers. He’s a man of the 60s all right. The 1860s.  Not only should people sign the petition. Not only should people come out to the Staples Center and protest on May 17th. People in LA, lifelong Lakers fans, should boo Phil Jackson and his team. They should root and cheer for Los Suns, devoting every last particle of karmic energy toward sending the Lakers home for the summer. As Alto Arizona says, “A coach that doesn't support the community doesn't have the community's support.” Vivan Los Suns.


[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at]

35 Reader Comments | Add a comment

Old Boss

Old Boss Phil just wants the Black and Brown folks
to stay in their place

Good stuff

Unfortunately, the Lakers are probably too good for the Suns, but this is good to read after Zirin said everyone should root for the Lakers last year over Orlando.

Los Suns winning the championship, as unlikely as that is to happen, would be the greatest sports story of my lifetime.

Dave the Broken Record

Really? Really? Because a guy is asked a question, and gives an answer you don't like he should be boycotted. Well that's very open minded of you Dave.

BTW I doubt that Los Angeles "is standing as one". As you might recall, it was only a few years ago that California voters passed Prop 187 to try and stem the tide of Mexification, but of course when ethnic special interest groups, and big business is pushing against the will of the people democracy always loses.


Wow, Dave. I thought I was ticked with Jackson after his book that made Kobe out to be the big problem in the LA locker room - not Shaq. The things he revealed should have stayed in the locker room and between he and his two star players. What good did it do?

And now this. While I'm not totally sure where I stand on the immigration issue in general, my skin twitches when I think of the new deal in AZ. I lived there when Sheriff Arpaio began his campaign to rid Maricopa County of "illegal immigrants" people were equally repulsed and rejoicing at the idea of closing borders and sending illegals back to Mexico or wherever.

I never thought it would go this far because there was such a resistant lobby bent on pushing back efforts to deal with the immigrant population.

You have to live there to really understand what people who "fear" immigrants are fighting for. I don't agree with their stand, but I get it.

Right Stand

I suspect that Mr. Zinn, much like most of those opposed to SB1070, has not read the new law and seeks only to follow his blind bretheren seeking to hand over this great country to those who do not occupy it legally. SB1070 does not endorse or promote racial profiling. What it does do is allow law enforcement to inquire about legal status AFTER another crime has already been committed or AFTER law enforcement has probable cause to believe that a criminal act has been committed. The new law does not give law enforcement authority to stop and detain somebody simply for walking down the street minding their own business. Those opposing SB 1070 are simply fear-mongering in an effort to protect those who are here illegally. However, the sheer majority of Americans and Arizonans SUPPORT the new law and calling people racists simply because they desire for the immigration laws of this Country to be followed is ignorant, selfish and self-serving in-and-of-itself. And to those of you opposed to SB1070, why don't you prove your commitment to that opposition by opening your check-books so as to relieve us taxpayers of the financial burden of those here illegally who take for free all of the government benefits those who are here legally pay for not to mention the economic and non-economic burdens of those who are the victims of those injured and killed by people here illegally. However, I suspect you will call me a racist for having the gall and nerve to ask that you put your money where your mouth is and paint me a racist simply for wanting the laws of this Country followed. If that's the case, brand me a racist. I, for one, am tired of this Country building schools, hospitals, roads, streets, water lines, sewers and doling out welfare, unemployment benefits, medical care and education to those here illegally off the backs of hard-working people here who are citizens or here legally. I am tired of people here illegally operating vehicles without insurance. I am tired of people here illegally expressing loyalty to their home Countries that either can't or won't provide for them while taking, through fraud and embezzelment, the handouts given to them by this Country. It is about time a State stood up to the mass exodus of people from other Countries who are unwilling to follow the rules established to monitor and regulate immigration and to ensure you are worthy of entering our great Country. Good for you Governor Brewer and Arizona. Thank you for taking a stand in the face of the fear mongers and others seeking simply to get their five minutes of fame.

Right Stand

Google and 7 keystokes including Enter.


the law makes it a crime to be found without immigration papers and allows police to question and detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

So, yes, it does promote racial profiling since they will be looking for Mexicans, not Swedes, which means its the brown people who will be stopped and questioned.

How hard was that?

Surriously, maniac

not only are you a racist, you are a simpleton. i am almost tired of you and your ilk who refuse to operate in reason. i also feel bad for you, knowing that you're either illiterate, as Rab has pointed out, or knowingly ignorant. we could ask you to support what you say with actual facts, but i know that's both asking too much, as well as impossible for you to collect. those of us who are interested in actually discussing these topics know you're just trolling with your own fear-mongering because you have neither fact nor reason on your side. godspeed.

Reporting 101

Hey Dave, here's a tip for you. Put a link to the interview you're citing. It takes like two seconds.

Rebels or victims, nothing else in Zirin's eyes

John McWhorter said it best when Zirin used this canard about dressing for work before:

"In his contempt for David Stern’s decree that basketball players stop doing interviews in full “thug” regalia, Zirin exemplifies an old white lefty tendency: believing that Not Being a Racist means exempting black people from basic civic responsibilities. Thug regalia symbolize violence, aloofness, and dismissal, and symbolism matters. Zirin understands this well when it comes to the Confederate flag or Hitler salutes, which he invokes frequently in other contexts.

Stern is hardly a benighted bigot in effectively calling for representatives of a capitalist enterprise to dress for work, especially when polls, some conducted by the NBA itself, reveal that basketball players are increasingly unpopular with ordinary Americans. Last time I checked, even rapper/mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs looked pretty good in jackets and suits. When the Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson pretended not to understand symbolism and said, “You can put a murderer in a suit and he’s still a murderer,” he unwittingly strengthened Stern’s point.

Black people fought for their freedom to be normal, not to be rebels. However, I suspect that Zirin would disagree: he wants black people to practice anti-authoritarianism in order to Speak Truth to Power. But once again Zirin cancels himself out: apparently black people are to channel their inner Malcolm X (not smiling, mind you) even if the basketball industry makes less money as a result—and pays its players (who are mostly black) less."

Phil Jackson: If they come for you...oh wait, you're white.

James Baldwin ends his letter to Angela Davis, included in the eponymously titled work, 'If They Come in the Morning', with the statement, 'If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own- which it is- and render impassable the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.'

I cite Baldwin's letter to Davis, not that context is exact or much less, similar, but because the emphasis, the consequences of seemingly apolitical stances, the 'freedom to not speak,' has political consequences. This is no hyperbolic formula. Nixon called out to his 'Silent Majority' to support continuance of morally reprehensible actions- the Vietnam War amongst them. The War in Vietnam dragged on for another six years while the vocal anti-war movement fizzled out.

As Zirin has said, Jackson's silence is as telling as an explicit affirmation of the bill. It is only the more telling when he chastises another team for taking a stand, for being more than the 'Circus' that sates the masses. Mr. Definitely, it is neither open-minded nor close-minded for Zirin to call for a boycott when Jackson insinuates that because a majority supports something, it is 'right' to keep silent or that people should shut up and make money because that's their job. And this speaks to the crux of Tornado's comments.

Zirin hasn't written, especially on this issue to my knowledge, that Black people should as an abstract trope take one position or another. McWhorter's other writings certainly convey his own insecurities about being a Black Man and what Black people should or shouldn't do. He has mostly cited the pressures that act on players, of every shade mind you, to remove themselves from political discussions and to just 'shut up and play.' Maybe you need to research and practice the arts of nuance and subtlety. And your straw-man about Nazi paraphernalia and Confederate flags: please don't begin to traffic in easy stereotypes that have more rhetorical value than actual. Nazi and Confederate nostalgia employ a very serious history of violence that have somewhat scripted uniforms; the idea that thugs have a uniform is petty, bigoted, and most of all, false. Are we to assume that because Goldman-Sachs executives wear suits, we're going to tremble every time someone passes us in a three-piece?

Silly, bigots.

People in favor of this law are now clinging to the "you haven't read it! You don't understand it!" crap.

Brewer signed another bill to censor ethnic studies. So, if you bigots don't think SB1070 is racist, Brewer's setting the record straight: "I ain't no racist! I never said that! But... I'll prove that I am!"

Laws are written by the poor, right?

But it's law! Just like everything Hitler did was law. Just like Jim Crow was law. Just like holding people without charges in Guantanamo is legal (or is it?). Putting Japanese in internment camps was law. All these great laws! What's wrong with AZ's new law? It comes in a long line of great laws. America's laws are sooo good that we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. You don't get that without good laws!

Dear freed slaves: you haven't read the law. If you would only read the law, then you would make the right decision and go back to the plantation.

Support the troops. Our kids are just innocent Germans. Just support them! They're only working the ovens. Don't support the holocaust, though. But you must to support the troops! Wear the ribbon! It'll make you feel good. Our brave Nazi soldiers are protecting Germany. But don't support the war. Support the Nazi troops by giving them better weapons. Don't you see? It all makes perfect sense....

JJ, Trolling for Love in All the Wrong Places...


Your real world examples are pathetic and myopic; you speak as if because some suffered the inhumane treatment done towards immigrants by Nativist and exploitative immigration laws, then the rest must, or that I and others are invalidating your friends' struggle, because we demand a fair and equitable equation for immigration. And thanks for your 'i have colored friends, so it's legitimate' anecdotes, it makes your argument for punishing immigrants who want to so much as to enjoy the same freedoms that YOU got just for being born here that much more endearing.

What you don't seem to understand is that because immigration is tied to a slew of processes and structures that extend beyond the explicite wording, 'immigration' or the act of doing so, (such as debt incurred on countries with the likes of the Philippines, Haiti, Mexico, etc., (from colonialism, wars for independence and subsequent indemnity payments, the IMF, et. al.) corrupt nominally independent political arrangements that benefit the US and other western countries economically, and the freedom of American capital to migrate further south to exploit lax labor regulation), that addressing 'illegal immigration' must start at the root causes of WHY people immigrate and NOT how they immigrate.

I demand that you give more than anecdote so as to be a contributing member of this discussion, but instead, you would rather fear-monger with tired and worn cliches that only address the supposed criminality of darker-skinned people. The real consequences of yours and others' hyped up Boogie-Man is the continued targeting of hard-working people who would rather jump a fence than starve or serve a life sentence assembling your TV at sub-poverty wages.

A list of possible changes that could stem the flood of illegal immigrants: the repeal of NAFTA, laws in the United States that demand the access of living wages to all workers who produce directly, or as a subsidiary or sub-contractor, to US-owned businesses, the repeal of punitive quotas meant to exclude non-whites. These are simple enough that I'd imagine you can understand.

In the sports world: the ending of punitive action towards athletes who use their fame and pulpit to espouse political positions, whether Left or Right- this means no punishment from either the League in which they play or from sponsorships.

And because you think I traffic in tropes from the CM, I'd hope you'll go back and re-read it, because I'm not convinced you've ever opened it. Just because you can obviously tell I'm a Marxist doesn't mean you get to slander my writing with such tawdry insults, intended to galvanize your cronies against my argument, rather than engage it. Godspeed.

Very disappointed in you Dave

This article was absolute crap and you completely took phil's views out of context. You should be ashamed of yourself. This reminds me of something jay mariotti would write about ozzie guillen quotes.

Phil made some very valid points and is very progressive, probably mroe progressive than you Dave. We do have an immigration problem in this country and no one on either side of the isle should deny that. We have a broken system that is not good for our country, the immigrants or our neighboring countries. This law is scary and will be overturned by the supreme court and all phil was saying was let the process run its course.

Phil really had an intelligent response to this. Concerning the team thing, I agree with him. What if a Laker such as gasol, even if we think they are a jerk, disagrees. he goal of the team is to win a championship and you have to be very careful about what kind of politics you force a team to address. What if the Sacramento Kings did it with republican idiot Spenser hawes? As much as I despise him as a person, I dont think it would be fair that in his place of work he would have to make that kind of political stand.

You are better than this Dave. Stick to simple race related articles. Here's a better idea, why does Steve Nash get a free pass for never being a real title contender? He has two mvps which is supposedly the best play in the nba, mroe than lebron and kobe, and has never come close to a title. He is an incredible athlete but I suspect white people give him the scrappy working harder than other bs excuse.

Los Angeles is not standing as one

Mr. Zirin, like many of your supporters in this debate, you have gotten the facts wrong. Los Angeles most certainly is NOT "standing as one" in opposition to Arizona's immigration law. Many people here don't like it, but many people here support it, as well. And, I suspect, there's a substantial number here who simply don't care. (We DO have a very apathetic citzenry when it comes to a lot of things....) But let's really examine what Jackson said, shall we? He didn't say he supports the Arizona law. He didn't say he denounces the Arizona law. He said what he understands the law to be. He doesn't have to take a position on it. He's a basketball coach in another city in another state. He doesn't live in Arizona, he doesn't work in Arizona (except when the Lakers have to go there to beat the Suns). He doesn't have to take a position, and in fact advocates that players and teams shouldn't be taking positions on such things. Just because someone's in the public eye, that doesn't mean that he or she owes you or anyone else his or her opinion on every single topic that may be up for public discussion.

City NOT standing as wone

Apparently the who city is not standing as one. You could smell and see the apathy at Staples Center last night. Fewer than 30 protesters, yawning fans streaming into the game.

Was I born here?

Yes, but I don't want to be asked for my papers at the game. Though I am kinda of light skined for a Latino, I don't want my dark skinned brothers to be harrassed as we drink at a Lakers or hell, a Dodgers game.

Such a buzz kill ya know?

Latino, hispanic, chican@s, immigrants, 4th gen, and 5th generation folks should avoid Laker games till they at least honor the same people who pay for a ticket, pay for parking, pay for food and pay for Laker merch...and say no to jim crow laws or should I say JUAN CROW LAWS

Was I born here?

Yes, but I don't want to be asked for my papers at the game. Though I am kinda of light skined for a Latino, I don't want my dark skinned brothers to be harrassed as we drink at a Lakers or hell, a Dodgers game.

Such a buzz kill ya know?

Latino, hispanic, chican@s, immigrants, 4th gen, and 5th generation folks should avoid Laker games till they at least honor the same people who pay for a ticket, pay for parking, pay for food and pay for Laker merch...and say no to jim crow laws or should I say JUAN CROW LAWS

Read the Bill

SB 1070 has already been amended. The current law is HB 2162. But go back to ranting and raving on something you haven't studied.

I can't read

I dedicate this to Geoff and the idea of studying.

Slave: Let’s escape…
Slave #2: No, we can’t….it’s illegal

Worker: Let’s go to America…
Worker #2: No, we can’t… it’s illegal.

Nazi soldier: Let’s turn off the ovens…
Nazi soldier #2: No, we can’t…it’s illegal.

U.S. Soldier: Let’s go AWOL…
U.S. Soldier #2: Nah, I need the benefits…

Angry trollers

Hi guys. Yes I read the bill. Yes I don't agree with it. Yes I think that no matter the wording, it opens the door for police abuse, racial profiling, and an insane diversion of funds toward having local police acting as ICE. And yes non-partisan studies show that the people mist likely to be affected will be manual laborers not the trope of the murdering hordes from across the border.

People in support of this bill: you are choosing to stand with Sarah Palin. Chilling, really.

And yes, I think Steve Nash deserved both his MVPs, as I have written before.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson

Dave, please give Phil Jackson a copy of your recent books.

Phil Jackson a progressive? (spitting out coffee..)

Benjamin, still awaiting some examples to support your point that Phil Jackson is more progressive than Dave. As a matter of fact, how about giving some examples of Phil Jackson taking any progressive stances at all in the past 20 years?

Selective research, JJ

JJ...that was during general election season, that Palin took that moderate stance on immigration. Ask her now. Go ahead. When all of these Republicans running for primaries, pandering to right wing voters, are associated with her. Bet you she'll decline to say she's for amnesty now. But of course when she runs for president she'll go back to expressing support for amnesty. Sarah Palin is NOT for amnesty. Where does she stand on Arizona's law? "We're all Arizonans now!". 'the %#$ out of here with that s*&t, JJ.

Nice try, "Angeleno"

Angeleno, Phil said that the law gives Arizona "teeth" to enforce the federal law. That's an endorsement. Nice try, though.



Your statement, " He doesn't have to take a position on it. " would carry much more weight if he hadn't taken such an adamant stand on it. Arizona's teeth for federal law,e.g.

Let them come

Maybe if US administrations hadn't been busy exploiting cheap Mexican labour for hundreds of years to build the infrastructure of the South Western states you wouldn't be having an immigration "problem".

Let them all come and work and pay taxes. What's the big deal, they aren't "taking" jobs from American citizens, they're doing jobs that Americans don't want to do, or are too lazy to do in the first place. No one evr got mugged for their job.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to
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