In addition to winning the first game of what promises to be a hard fought series against their long-time nemeses, the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns are speaking out against the anti-immigrant law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona.
Each Suns member will add the Spanish word “Los” to their uniform for their next game to signal their opposition to the law and their support of Phoenix’s Latino community.
Their timing is deliberate. Tonight’s game falls on Cinco de Mayo, so the team thought it even more appropriate to take their stand on this day.
Steve Nash, the first basketball player to speak out against the second Gulf War, has also gone on the record against the recent legislation:
“I think it’s fantastic,” Nash said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think the law is very misguided. 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.”
This is not the first time in the past few years that the Suns have been trendsetters.
Under Mike D’Antoni, they adopted the run-and-gun “Second Seconds or Less” offense in which they sought as often as possible to shoot within the first seven seconds on the 24-second clock.
The approach thrilled basketball purists-Bill Simmons wrote a column dedicated to heralding the end of the SSOL era-and earned Nash back-to-back MVPs, but only got the team as far as the conference finals twice.
It also got them a book.
Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum spent a year with the Suns during the 2005-2006 season. The sights and sounds he observed are the basis for this engaging book.
McCallum takes the reader behind the scenes and into the coaches’ and players’ lives. Clearly enamored of the Suns’ style of basketball, McCallum nevertheless writes about points of tension and the pain they feel when they fall short of their goal of a championship, this time against the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks. The book opens in the locker room after their final loss, with an emotionally depleted Nash unable to answer his coach’s summons for a final good word to close out the season.
Whether this year’s version can get past the Spurs will be answered during the next two weeks. But Los Suns have made a powerful political statement that may ultimately earn them more acclaim and notoriety, depending on one’s persuasion, than the previous up-tempo style McCallum ably chronicled.