On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, the NBA's Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that identified the team as “Los Suns,” in response to the recent immigration law from Arizona. Suns owner Robert Sarver said it was “to honor our Latino community, the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation,” ESPN reported.
The move comes as consumers and media outlets across the country voiced criticism about the new law, which gives local police the power to request documentation from those they suspect are illegal immigrants. The governor has since signed a bill into law that bans ethnic studies at Arizona schools.
The “Los Suns” jerseys were originally used by the team for Noche Latino promotions for the NBA earlier in the year, and Sarver gave the team a chance to approve the idea before going forward. Suns players, including All-Star guard Steve Nash, have since come forward promoting the move.
Based on the negative responses of the rest of the country to the new Arizona law, the Los Suns move was almost a no-brainer for the team. Other Arizona teams, such as baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, have been boycotted at their away games. This gave the NBA team a way to prevent that type of backlash.
The Suns had only one protester at the game, but drew plenty of media coverage about their decision. Whoopi Goldberg wore a Los Suns jersey on The View, while the team even received a shout-out from President Obama.
While sports and politics rarely mix, this move was an easy way for the team to make a statement with relatively little risk, and it boosted buzz for the Suns throughout their run in the NBA playoffs.
Did the jerseys actually change anything happening in Arizona? No. But it was a good PR move by the team and got them in the spotlight for something other than how they performed on the court. Of course, the team went on to win its game that night and the series against the San Antonio Spurs, so the Los Suns mojo may have helped a bit.
PR Play Rating:
3. On the right track