Aiming to make a statement in opposition of the recently passed Arizona immigration law, the Phoenix Suns will wear “Los Suns” jerseys during Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the San Antonio Spurs on Cinco de Mayo.
The Suns, who sported those jerseys twice during the season and won both games, feel the bright lights of the playoffs will provide the perfect venue for this pointed political statement.
Suns owner Robert Sarver released the following statement:
“Our players and organization felt that wearing our ‘Los Suns’ jerseys on Cinco de Mayo was a way for our team and our organization to honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the State of Arizona, and our nation. We are proud that 400 players from 36 countries compete in the NBA, and the league and the Suns have always considered that to be a great strength of the NBA.
“The frustration with the federal government’s failure to deal with the issue of illegal immigration resulted in passage of a flawed state law. However intended, the result of passing this law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question, and Arizona’s already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them.”
The new state law, which makes it a crime to illegally be in the country, allows cops to request documents from people who with “reasonable suspicion” seem as if they may not be legal citizens. Opponents of the law fear this will lead to widespread racial profiling.
Steve Nash, who has never been shy to voice his opinion on political issues, strongly opposes the law as well and thinks what the Suns are doing about it is “fantastic.”
“I think the law is very misguided,” Nash told The Associated Press. “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.”
The Suns — who asked the their players if anybody was in opposition to wearing the “Los Suns” jerseys and had no dissenters — are absolutely doing the right thing here after the D-backs faced protests at road games last week and after national leaders have called for boycotts of Arizona.
Surprisingly, the Suns have not caught much flak on the issue aside from a humorous sign in Portland in which a Blazers fan told Nash that Governor Janet Brewer wants to see his papers. But with the national spotlight firmly fixed on the Suns, it likely was only a matter of time before the Suns became more visibly connected to the issue.
It’s not fair for any sports team to be tied together with any political issue, especially one the majority of the team opposes, but that’s life. The Suns needed to send a message that they oppose this law before that happened to them, and that’s what they are doing by wearing the “Los” on their jerseys.
At the same time, you’ve got to commend Sarver for taking a stand for something he believes in on a national stage. It’s always safe not to comment on politics. Don’t they say politics and religion are the two things never to bring up on a first date? As J.A. Adande writes, it takes some major cojones for Sarver to make this big of symbolic gesture along with the strongly-worded statement against the immigration law.
That’s not to mention that this will likely further endear the Suns in the hearts of the Hispanic community as well as the international community at large. Led by a player like Steve Nash who so strongly opposes this measure, the Suns can be seen as a beacon of opposition to the law instead of a symbol of the actual law.
Finally, I hope the nation understands that people in Arizona aren’t a bunch of cowboys who want to round up all the Latinos and send them back to Mexico and South America. Maybe some people think that way, but many other people in this state view the world as Steve Nash does. Arizona businesses should not be boycotted and the Suns should not be reviled because of SB1070.
Wearing “Los Suns” jerseys on Cinco de Mayo in front of a captive primetime national television audience should go a long way toward ensuring national public opinion doesn’t turn on the Suns because of the immigration law.