Following tons of press Monday about his statements earlier this month expressing some understanding of Arizona's controversial immigration law, Lakers coach Phil Jackson stated that he wants to remain neutral on the topic.
” … It is my wish that this statement not be used by either side to rally activists,” Jackson said, according to the statement obtained by the Weekly.
Jackson invoked a resume that paints him as somewhat of a liberal:
“I've been involved in a number of progressive political issues over the years and I support those who stand up for their beliefs,” he said. “It is what makes this country great. 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.”
He called his views on the Arizona immigration law, which allows police there to check the immigration status of those they stop, part of a “personal statement.”
In early May the coach told ESPN.com that he didn't understand why the law was such a big deal: “Am I crazy, or am I the only one that heard when the legislators said that, 'We just took United States immigration law and adapted it to our state,''” he said.
Anti-Arizona activists said they planned to picket the Lakers Wester Conference finals game against the Phoenix Suns tonight, with some decrying Jackson's earlier stance and others wondering why the team doesn't make an statement against the law in the same way the Suns did when they donned “Los Suns” jerseys earlier this month.