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The Los Angeles Lakers struggled at the close of the regular season and had to battle off a scrappy Oklahoma City squad (Kevin Durant, fresh off a regular season scoring championship, totally dropped the mic at Kobe’s feet after rocking it in game 3) to get to the Western Conference semis against the Utah Jazz. And then, as if fresh from the cool waters of Lake Minnetonka, the Lakers arrived at the 2010 NBA Playoffs.
Eight games later, including a sweep of the aforementioned Jazz, an average margin of victory of nearly 11 points, the Lakers seem invincible. Kobe has scored 30+ in eight straight games. Pau Gasol dropped 29 in Game 2. A game after Amare Stoudamire called Odom’s Game 1 performance “lucky” (he had 19 pts./19 rebs) Ol’ Smashin-a-Kardashian poured in 17 and 11, respectively. Other than Shannon Brown’s missed dunk (which wasnt challenged by Richardson as much as it was observed) ...
... really, who has challenged the Lakers thus far in this series?
Other than Vanessa Bryant, that is.
Ms. Bryant showed up wearing a T-shirt which read "Do I look illegal?" for Game 1 (for once, the $4 mil rock on her finger was overshadowed by another accoutrement). Ms. Bryant, who is Chicana, as are her two daughters with Bryant, issued a clear challenge to the anti-immigration legislation adopted by Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona. Brewer, who collaborated with Rep. Russell Pearce (a white supremacy sympathizer) was looking for a poll bounce, considering her ~20% approval approval rating just months ago. Though she has received that bounce, she, and her state by extension, have been vilified in the national media, hearkening back to the state's tardiness at adopting a MLK holiday in the late 80's (I've written about this here).
Her choice of attire ironically challenges the beliefs of Lakers head coach Phil Jackson more than it does anyone on the Suns' team. The Phoenix Suns actually side with Ms. Bryant on the issue, famously and controversially donning "Los Suns" jerseys for Game 2 of their series vs. the San Antonio Spurs in support of Latinos in the Phoenix community. Jackson, who has a) come out in support of SB 1070 and, b) made other controversial and culturally insensitive comments about people of color in the recent past (and got that ass ethered by Scoop Jackson for doing so) has incensed Laker fans of every ethnic and cultural background by doing so. And his comments regarding the Suns' and Ms. Bryant's expressions of dissent has done more to engender negative feelings associated with his ball club, including protests of their home athletic events.
In the end, Ms. Bryant has exposed Phil Jackson's true colors. And none of them are darker than paper bags.
So during those long stretches of the Lakers v. Suns games, when the Lakers go on 15-0 runs, Kobe is hitting turnaround fadeaways for 2 sets of 10 while Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire stand idly by, waiting to get back to AZ so someone can ask Pau Gasol for his documentos, take a minute to think about Phil Jackson's effed up politics. Imagine how someone who has spent this much time coaching and working with people from all over the world could so cavalierly criticize their culture, dismiss their humanity, belittle their existence. Reconsider cheering for a man who sees no value in your affinities or expressions of heritage and tradition.
I'm not saying don't rock the purple and gold. I'm not saying boycott the Lakers. I am saying that if Phil Jackson doesn't value the lives of black and brown and Latino people, then he'd be coaching Luke Walton to dish the ball to Adam Morrison, and you wouldn't even have a damn team to cheer for right now. Thanks for pointing that out, Ms. Bryant.
nota blacke: Word has it that in retaliation of the Los Angeles City Council's decision to boycott Arizona's passage of SB 1070, the anti-immigration/show me your papers/si se puede (vamanos) bill, the Arizona Corporation Commission is threatening to turn out the lights in Los Angeles, as it provides nearly 1/3 of the City of Los Angeles' electricity. Damn. Arizona wanna make erryone look illegal (if erryone is dark, do erryone go to jail?).
On the plus side for the Suns, maybe the Vegas odds dip below 10 points if the lights are out in Staples.