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Los Suns: Phoenix basketball team's protest of Arizona immigration law brings cheers, jeers

Phoenix Sun basketball players wear their Los Suns jerseys for May 5, 2010 playoff game by Christian Petersen:Getty Images

Every year, the Phoenix Suns wear jerseys that say "Los Suns" for the NBA's "Noche Latina" program. This year, the jerseys served a more political purpose.

In announcing the Suns would wear their Spanish jerseys last night for Game 2 against the San Antonio Spurs -- which coincided with Cinco de Mayo -- Suns owner Robert Sarver said,  "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 … " Then he delivered his pretty apt political assessment, blaming the federal government:

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.

As star Steve Nash put it, the Arizona law "really damages our civil liberties. I think it opens up the potential for racial profiling and racism. ... It represents our state poorly in the eyes of the nation and the world."

Not everyone was happy. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, noting that Sarver's banks took $140 million in TARP funds, suggested the team be called Los Moochers. And one outraged fan told the Arizona Republic that she shredded her four lower-level tickets to Wednesday's game in protest. Another fan, Roger Gibbard, who said he has been a Suns fan since 1981, wrote a letter to the paper, saying he was "very unhappy, and I don't think they should get involved."

Perhaps the unintended subtext of this jersey protest might be to prove S. I. Hayakawa right. A long time ago, the California linguist (and U.S. senator) warned that unless the federal government made English the country's official language, it would lead to a breakdown in civility -- and a preference for Spanish.

By the way, Los Suns defeated San Antonio, 110-102, to take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series. And just for the record, shouldn't it be, Los Soles?

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: The Phoenix Suns Grant Hill, left, and Steve Nash wear their Los Suns jerseys in Wednesday's NBA  playoff game. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

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When I visit a foreign country I must show & carry my Passport. This is a requirement in all modern countries. How is it that anyone, but an illegal or a left brained idiot would require that Arizonans & all Americans be forced to tolerate and adopt the rest of the world ? Most immigrants are low skilled & wind up adding to the burden of those of us who work legally. Mexico & so many other countries are in cultural default. We cannot & should not burden ourselves with trying to right the wrongs internationally.

As a NBA fan for more than 50 years, I will never watch, or go to another Suns game. If I see a sponsor of the Suns, their products will be boycotted by me and my large extended family. The people who thought this was a good idea are anti Americans and need to pay a price for their support for the law breakers.
As a legal immigrant and naturalized citizen who followed the law to be in this former great country, I believe this nonsense has gone to far.

You're either legal or your not. The Phoenix Suns organization is pandering to the ill-informed and the apathetic.

Stupid Suns! Supporting law breaking illegals!!!! You're a disgrace to the sate of Arizona!

I am getting "moron fatigue" from the continued ignorance stemming from this bill, which merely mirrors laws that are already in place. BOOOOOOOO to the Phx Suns. This is one Arizonan that will be rooting for the other team from now on.

Los Suns? Every last one of them should get a 1 way pass down to Mexico if thats what they like so much! Living in Phoenix, I keep hearing all about how the Latin American is going to get harassed so much. All that is allowed to happen is IF a cop pulls someone over or catches them doing a crime, they are supposed to ask if they are a citizen of the USA. If they say yes, the cop asks for proof. They aren't going to have checkpoints, and they can't pull over everyone with a skin tone.
If you think that the Illegals have rights, then you should put a plate of kibble out for stay dogs, a bowl of milk for stray cats, and a plate of rotten food for the cockroaches because that is all they are.
Want rights? Get a green card.

Best factual article that I have read in the LA Times in a while. Glad to see that you lead with the fact that these jerseys have been in use for about two years now. I still think that sports should not mingle in the area of politics. It is bad enough that we have a bunch of civil rights groups and unions playing with the public emotions on this one and not bothering to educate everyone on what the ammended Arizona illegal immigration law really says. I guess that it is just easier to blind the public with emotion and fuel the fire because if the truth was presented there would be alot less fear of the Arizona Law.

I will never watch them play again.

I wont be attending any more games.

I have no problem with the uniforms and support the Suns in their stand against this unconstitutional law...but shouldn't the jerseys say "Los Sols"?

AZ... what an embarrassment to everything this country "stands for"... If they didn't see all this coming, how did they get into office and how do they do their jobs? Pathetic leadership...

Boo! I hope the PHOENIX Suns don't make the finals just for these stupid jerseys.

Just play with the ball. No need to get involve with politic .

>> Steve Nash put it, the Arizona law "really damages our civil liberties. I think it opens up the potential for racial profiling and racism. ... It represents our state poorly in the eyes of the nation and the world." <<

Nash is a Canadian. Does Nash believe Canada should help solve the problems of Mexican immigration by offering free asylum to all immigrants regardless of skills or origin?

A few years back, Canada made a big deal of exporting Americans (many left-over Vietnam war dissenters) that had overstayed their visas and were taking jobs from Canadians. Wonder if Nash protested that discrimination?

Canadian seaport communities regular deal with Asians that sneak in off ships by arresting them. Does Nash protest that as bigotry?

Does Nash believe that aliens in Canada should not be required to have documents such as visas and passports?

Just asking.

The only way you can be against the new law is (1) you haven't read it and you are just reading the ignorant, hysterical press reports, or (2) you are not in favor of securing our borders and enforcing the law. This is what our country is coming to:

Los Lakers where you at?

I protested the team by not watching the game last night.

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

Go Suns.

I am non-hispanic who supports fairness and equality. I do not live in Arizona, but am a US citizen. The law passed in Arizona is embarrassing for our country and goes against our nation's founding principles.

Is everyone out there of native American descent? We are a nation of immigrants! Odds are the AZ legislators who demonstrated poor judgement in writing this legislation are descendants of a line of people originally from somewhere other than the USA.

All who come to the USA to make a better life and are willing to work hard for it should be welcome. It makes us stronger. The hispanic population in particular play a key role in keeping our economic engine going, as well as in enriching our culture.

If this were a government agency I would get upset. But if some business owner wants to alienate Americans, that is thier perogative. I, for one, will not purchase any Phoenix Suns gear because this repulses me.

Name another holiday Americans are forced to celebrate based on national origin. No, St. Patties Day is religious. No, Yom Kippur is religious. No, MLK day celebrates a great American. Holidays based on national origin cross the line for me.

By the way, round up the illegals and kick them out now - all of them - no exceptions. Jail the employers.

"...warned that unless the federal government made English the country's official language, it would lead to a breakdown in civility -- and a preference for Spanish..."

Hmm, well, people speaking perfect fine English can be as uncivil as anyone else, but the more disturbing thing is: Spanish = chaos?

...also in the news, 5 California high school students were told to turn their shirts 'inside out' or they had to leave school...

...they had American flags on the shirts.

...the boys left for the day rather than insulting our country.

Ms. Neuman-- as a journalist you should practice a little more bias rather than making an assumption that "perhaps the unintended subtext of this jersey protest might be to prove S. I. Hayakawa right".

If you want to see a breakdown in civility, watch footage of "teabaggers" at Health care reform town hall meetings. Are they speaking Spanish?

Sounds like you agree with Hayakawa.

There's no empirical evidence, however, that making English the official language has any effect on a person's motivation to learn the language. Add to that the fact that motivation is but one of many factors that impact language acquisition and such legislation becomes more about exclusion than anything else. In reality, immigrants are acquiring English faster today than ever before in the history of the country, with the vast majority of the children of immigrants being English dominant.

What's so frustrating about this debate is the fact that so few linguists are being consulted to comment on the issue.

Grammatically, yes, it should be Los Soles, but Suns in this instance is a proper noun which you typically don't translate. Hence, Los Suns, which is kind of how it would be said in Spanglish as well.

For what it is worth, "los soles" is also slightly incorrect. Forget about "los Suns" (I've never been a fan of mixing English and Spanish words). "El Sol" is preferable.

Can someone clarify the AZ law? Can you just be stopped for looking like an illegal, or does there have to be some other reason for the stop before the cops can ask (eg. speeding)?

My own view is that the border needs to be secured for a few years, then we can talk about amnesty for those who have been here awhile.

Stick to basketball, do what you are paid to do, stop getting above your station and keep your dopey opinions to yourselves.

One of lifes golden rules: Steer clear of thick sportsmen pretending to be clever.

I liked Sarver's comment about honoring the diversity of the NBA although I can't figure out whether he's talking about all of those white guys who own the teams or the black guys who play for them.

Nice spin Bob.

viva los clippers

I hope the suns loose their shorts! GO LAKERS!

Actually Los Soles would be incorrect. Los Soles is a plural noun in Spanish. 'The Phoenix Suns' (or 'The Suns') is a proper name so the only thing you should translate is the article.

There doesn't seem to be any logic behind the statements in your second-to-last paragraph (not to suggest that there couldn't be, just that none has been provided).

The so-called "pro-English" movement has its roots not in linguistic science (to wit, see the Linguistics Society of America's Statement on Language Rights[1]), but in anti-immigrant sentiment--and not just illegal immigration. The original English Only movement was a rebrand of the Zero Population Growth Movement. At the time, no one was much interested in combatting immigration, so the group switched tactics and attacked those who can't (or don't) speak English. The rhetoric has had one thing common thread since the late 70s: Utter nonsense.

It would seem to me that if people really cared about English (the world's #1 most popular language, by the way--a title it's in no danger of giving up, either to Spanish or Chinese or any other language), they'd care what those who study language--actual linguists--would have to say. Alas, linguists like Pullum and Nunberg have been consistently ignored in favor of yahoos like Steve King from Iowa who know absolutely nothing about language.


I heard tejas wants to change the name of San Antonio to ST.ANTHONY. ONE LOVE, ONE WORLD!

I'm not sure the point of the Hayakawa reference here. The Suns jerseys do not suggest anything about the use of Spanish or English as an official language, nor do they suggest a preference for Spanish over English. In fact, "Los Suns" reflects a union of English and Spanish. It's a powerful way to make a statement about respecting immigrants while retaining our American identity.

Actually, Johanna, Los Soles would be very hot celestial bodies, whereas Los Suns is a basketball team. And a pretty good one.

@Johanna Neuman - just for the record, when referring to names that are trademarks or business names you do not take the literal translation. the "Suns" are a trademark just as any other sports franchise or business (i.e. Los Lakers, Los Dodgers) and therefore would be referred to as such in any language. the business Wells Fargo wouldn't be translated into "pozos fargo".

in regards to the "outraged fan", really?! get over it! they didn't hurt me, or the team. the team still won without their "support" and STILL got the "outraged fans" money. so who is the REAL winner from their so called protest.

a break down in civility? the linguist know's nothing about how to be a civil, respectful, courteous, and caring human being and also doesn't understand that the U.S.A. is a melting pot of different people from different cultures with different languages. you would think someone with the name like 'Hayakawa' would be able to grasp this ideal that makes this country so great. i'm not saying it's perfect, but would you really want to live anywhere else? not me.

Maybe Steve Nash would like to take 50 million mexicans back to Canada with him. Foreigners should stfu when on American soil.
The next civil war can't come soon enough. And this time we will completely clean house.

How inappropriate for a professional basketball team to take an incorrect stance on a political issue that pertains to controlling our Sovereign borders. The Suns should move South of the Border if they don't like the law.

Shouldn't it be "Los Sols"?

ESPN has been at the fore of demonizing anyone who thinks illegal immigration is illegal.

There is a simple solution here. Arizona can bus anyone who doesn't want to abide by the law to Bristol, Connecticut. Bristol has a population of about 62,000 people -- I'm sure they could double that, since (apparently) Bristol is the land of milk-and-honey. Since ESPN has claimed these are good, law-abiding people, I'm sure it would be a boon for Bristol :)

Everyone wins.

My opinion as to why there is so much frustration against the new Arizona Law. Every time I wean a colt from his mom's milk; ( which is free and easy to get to ) the colt runs around whinnying as loud as possible, paws the ground, kicks the fence, throws his ears back, looks very angry and keeps trying to jump the fence to get back to his free lunch. Up until then he was able to run free and do what he wanted.(even if it was not good manors he always forced his ignorance on the other animals) After a period of time he calms down and starts eating on his own. He then rejoins the heard as a part of the solution not the problem. If you are illegal, I hope you are smarter than the colt. Go back to the other side of the fence, wean yourself, get a green card as my wife has( had to prove she was not a criminal, did not have aids was not carrying a baby and had to prove understanding of the English language) and become part of the solution and not the problem. If not, go back to your country and protest and change that government, not ours. For those against this law give me reasons why this is not the proper way to legally immigrate to any country (unless you have a plan to take over). If you care about this country ( not just what you can take), and you must to some degree, are you would not be here. DO THE RIGHT THING, BECOME A LEGAL PART OF AMERICA, JOINS US IN PROTECTING HER, FROM THOSE WHO WANT TO DESTROY HER...

And as for racial profiling ...

Bank Clerk.. Officer a black man in a red-sweat shirt just robbed the bank. Police Officer..We can not racial profile, you must say a person with a red-sweat shirt just robbed your bank. Police Officer...We will arrest everyone wearing a red-sweat shirt. Police Officer.. We arrested these 20 persons that were wearing a red-sweat shirt. Bank Clerk..But officer they are all white.. Police Officer.. You must not say white, you must say none of these persons wearing a red-sweat shirt is the one that robbed your bank. Police Officer... We will try again, are you sure the person was wearing a red-sweat shirt?

I do not think we are having a overload of illegal white of black people crossing the border. So lets stop the BS....If it is a weed call it a weed and and pull it out, because weeds will multiply and destroy the grass.

This is not to much to ask..

I saw Jay Leno at Correspondent Dinner his best line was; “That was my favorite story (this year) Republicans and a Lesbian bondage club. It’s ironic, Republicans don’t want lesbian getting married but they do like watching them “tie the knot”. So I thought that was interesting.”

You can say the same about Tea Party (they are haters not debaters or as others have dubbed them screamers not dreamers), they say they respect the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence but they do not mind passing laws, through weak Governors (no one voted for this crazy) who only care about getting reelected on the backs of undocumented workers, that will not pass Constitution muster, just like Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago and your MLK Day ban, keep passing them Arizona and the rest of us will continue to challenged them in a court of law and you will fail again (and yes we will Boycott Arizona). Their phony patriotism is sickening; they are just racists going by another name. We all know you are just itching to put a sheet on their head? Let’s face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. It appears that the Republican Party is only good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. The Republicans party will continue turned inward to their old fashion obstructionist party (and their Confederacy appreciation roots) because they continue to allow a small portions (but very loud portion) of their party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to rule their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots (they have already acted against doctors that perform abortions). The Birthers and the Tea party crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and people like Hamilton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believed that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now it’s about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits and the crazy Birthers who have not learned that the way our courts work is that you get a competent lawyer, verifiable facts and present them to a judge, if the facts are real and not half baked internet lies, then, and only then, do you proceed to trial. The Birthers seem to be having a problem with their so called “facts”. Let’s face it no one will take the Birthers seriously until they win a case, but until then, you will continue to appear dumb, crazy or racist, or maybe all three. I heard that Orly Taitz now wants to investigate the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC), she wants to re-establish a family values party, that’s like saying that the Catholic Church cares about the welling being of children in their care, too late for that. Yee Haw!

that's funny all of you who are talking for this law are probably caucasion or look caucasion.. so you have no worries. I'll be damned if i get stopped and asked for my papers because my skin is tanner than yours. That's the problem don't you see? and if you can't see then you are a racist and the whole world laughs at you because this law is only a veil to your hatred. Everyone already knows you don't celebrate MLK day. Look.. my family has given sons to Iraq. F- U all. this law has made media controversy but anyone with any bit of intelligence will already agree that the supreme court will not rule for this law but against it. It's basic first year law student curriculum. You guys are all on the computer talking smack. good job (rolling my eyes) .... because we're in the streets protesting.. and power comes in numbers.. you asholes never learn. We are always the winning margin for the next president and other elected officals. so go ahead.. knock yourselves out and continue to lobby a "ferocious" campaign on the computer. haha

LT, you say that we should agree to let the Illegals in with no penalty because our ancestors are from other areas? Yes, my ancestors are from elsewhere (Denmark and Wales), but they were never in the country illegally. They filed their paperwork, rode over on the ship, and came 100% documented into Ellis Island. The first thing they did was get a job and a roof over their head. That is all we are asking of the Hispanics. We like them, they should stay. They just need to come into the country LEGALLY!
Props to the legal Hispanics who don't try to take advantage of the system. Yay them!

I have never seen so many ignorant people in my life.You people are all sheep and parrots repeating the same crap to make sense of this bill. If you do not live here in AZ or hispanic then you don't know what we go througheveryday, what racism we go through. I applaud what they did... Since you all seem to have trouble understanding where we stand I will explain why we are upset...
This new law gives Any law inforcement agency the right to search us to see if we are legally here. Thats just not an ID, but birth cert or Passport. We are guilty before we found innocent. I myself have been stopped 3 times and for no reason.
We dont want illegal immigration to continue, we hispanics as American Citizens want to be treated with respect and dignity. Why is this so hard to understand. Because we are hispanic or other ethnicity we don't deserve this?
If the problem is the borders then fix that problem, dont make all people who are not white pay for this.
This bill brought out all the racist people. You think I want to be told go home Mexican? I am not a Mexican for one and I have never lived in Mexico. My forefathers have fought for Americas freedoms and liberties but if we are not white we are not entitled to that.
People from Latin America come here for the same reasons your people came here. Freedom and a good life. American companies have made it so bad that people there can't make decent wages. America has caused the economy problem in Mexico. Why dont you all get upset over that.
You forget who picks your produce and cleans all these office buildings at night. To say they are a drain on the economy is rediculous. They work, shop, eat and even buy houses here. They bring money into the economy.
All of you racist people focus on the negative. Well I can mention a dozen or more negative things about Americans but i wont get into that.
This bill isnt about protecting borders or protecting the public from scary illegal immigrants. This bill has made it so that now I am considered less than human and not entitled to be looked at in the same manner as a white person. This law is against the constitution and it goes against people and their right to live. Even the federal government is upset with this law and feel that AZ has over stepped its bounds.
I am glad the Suns show that even though they may loose a few fans they stood up for the right reason. They aren't the only group. They know what is at stake here. Unless you walk a mile in my shoes you have no idea what its like to be other than white in America.

I was tossed out of the game by the gestapo (security cops) for wearing a custom t-shirt which read: VIVA los 1070 (Arizona Senate bill 1070). After being detained most of the 2nd quarter, I was allowed back in, wearing the shirt. To their credit, the president of LOS SUNS called to apologize.

We are a nation of immigrants--of LEGAL immigrants. These are illegal aliens. To immigrate, you must come through customs and become naturalized citizens. Illegal aliens do neither.

Go ARIZONA GOV'T! Thank you for cracking down on the scourge of Hispanic criminality invading our borders every day.

What's this produce papers nonsense? Since 1986, by FEDERAL requirement, potential employees have to PROVE THEY ARE CITIZENS to work in our nation or the employer who doesn't comply properly with suffer steep fines. When you commit a vehicular infraction, you have to produce IDENTIFICATION and are checked for other warrants outstanding, your entire record. Yet somehow when this process applied to all extends to possible legal immigrants, it's an imposition of rights. Fools like Nash might believe this is an erosion of rights, but he only proves he's an uneducated and unaware idiot.

The Suns should stay out of politics, which they obviously don't understand, and play ball. The Arizona law mirrors the Federal law and mandates that state and local officials enforce the federal laws that are already on the books.The issue is not about the law but, rather, enforcement of existing law. If you want open borders then you should protest the Federal Immigration laws. How do you boycott the Fed?

I carry my driver's license and don't feel I am being discriminated against when asked to show it. I have to show my passport abroad and to get back into this country. Should we make this a "whites only" requirement? Lots of luck going to Mexico without proper I.D.

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A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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