'Los Suns' Back Latinos in Wake of New Immigration Law
PHOENIX, Arizona - Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, a harsh critic of a new Arizona immigration law, will have his team wear a Latino-supporting "Los Suns" version of its jersey in the NBA playoffs.
Sarver said Tuesday that the Suns will wear the jerseys, used twice in regular season games that Phoenix won both times, during Wednesday's second game of the Suns' NBA second-round series against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Suns, who won the opener 111-102 on Monday, will make the move on Cinco de Mayo, a popular Latino holiday.
Sarver said the jerseys will "honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation."
He joined critics of the state's new immigration law, which Latino groups and civil rights organizations fear could lead to racial profiling of Hispanics, a law US President Barack Obama has called "misguided."
"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 and Arizona's already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them," Sarver said.
The law Sarver termed "flawed" makes it a crime to be in the United States illegally and directs police to inquire about immigration status and demand to see documentation if they suspect a person is in the nation illegally.
"We want to celebrate the diversity that exists in our state and the diversity that exists in the NBA, make sure that people understand that we know what's going on and we don't agree with the law," Suns general manager Steve Kerr said.
Some have called for the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be moved from Phoenix as a result of the law.
Phoenix Suns players backed the idea and decided to wear the jerseys once the idea was brought to them.
"It's fantastic," said guard Steve Nash, a South African-born Canadian. "I think the law is very misguided. I think it's, unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties.
"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."
Added Suns star Amare Stoudemire: "It's going to be great to wear Los Suns to let the Latin community know that we're behind them 100 percent."
NBA players union leaders agreed.
"We applaud the actions of Phoenix Suns players and management and join them in taking a stand against the misguided efforts of Arizona lawmakers," NBA Players Association leader Billy Hunter said in a statement.
"We are consulting with our members and our player leadership to determine the most effective way for our union to continue to voice our opposition to this legislation."
The Spurs couldn't get "Los Spurs" jerseys in time or they would have worn them, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
"It's a wonderful idea because it kind of shows what we all should be about," he said. "A lot of administrations have done nothing about the immigration deal and now everybody's paying the price, especially a lot of people in Arizona. That's a bad thing, but the reaction is important, too, and this reaction, I believe with Mr. Sarver, is inappropriate."