Home > Uncategorized > Los Suns Owner Robert Sarver is Los Cool…

Los Suns Owner Robert Sarver is Los Cool…

I’ve made a fairly conscientious decision not to talk about the Suns thus far in the playoffs. In part that’s because the opportunity just hasn’t really presented itself, in part it’s because the last time I wrote about them – like the utter and total moron that I am – I pronounced them dead, but mostly it’s because you just don’t talk to the pitcher during a no hitter…

But, this, well, this is a good reason to talk about the Suns. Robert Sarver, whom if I’ve ever spoken of him, I’ve spoken of him poorly (I seem to have some distant memories of the word cheap being uttered once or twice…), has done something remarkable. Sarver has taken a stand. Other than Mark Cuban, who blogs loudly and incessantly about anything and everything, I cannot remember an owner ever taking a public stance on anything other than schilling for public stadium funds.

Sarver however has taken a very public political stance against Arizona’s recently passed state law that makes it a misdemeanor for immigrants to be in Arizona without proper documents. On Wednesday night, when Phoenix tips off against the Spurs in game two of their Western Conference series, the Suns will be wearing their “Los Suns” jerseys. The purpose of the gesture is to raise attention to the recently passed law, while paying homage to the Latin community on Cinco de Mayo. To me, this is nothing short of remarkable.

So often we criticize our public figures for not taking a stance on political issues. Of course, what we are really criticizing them for is not taking the stance we want on political issues. However, in any debate there is at best two sides, which means that a public figure risks offending large swaths of his viewing public by taking a public position. While the Arizona bill has been roundly criticized outside of Arizona, it surely has large pockets of support within the state (it was, after all, signed off on by the governor – who presumably worries about the pulse of the electorate). So, by publicly taking a stance against the law, Sarver risks ostracizing season ticket holders. He also risks dividing his crowd during his team’s most important series of the season.

What he gains however, is showing the rest of his fans that he is a man of principle. The law allows police officers to request proof of status if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally. It is of course that nebulous term, “reasonable suspicion” that is at the crux of Sarver and other’s concern. As that wise sage, the South African born, Canadian citizen, current US resident Steve Nash said,

“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.”

Sarver surely has the governor’s phone number. He could have just placed a phone call to voice his discontent, but instead he brought this issue to the most public forum at his disposal. Phoenix GM Steve Kerr simply stated,

“We just felt like it was important,” Kerr said. “We’re in the public eye and this is obviously a huge issue. We acknowledge there are two sides to the issue and there are a lot of dynamics. It’s a difficult thing to sift through and there are going to be differing opinions. But what we’re focusing on is 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 itself.”

Even his opponent tomorrow night is supporting him,

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said his team was interested in taking part but couldn’t get new “Los Spurs” road jerseys in time for the game.

“It’s a wonderful idea,” Popovich said. “because it kind of shows what we all should be about. Sure there needs to be a lot of work done, obviously. 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 [the Arizona law], I believe with Mr. Sarver, is inappropriate.”

So, please Mr Sarver, take a bow. This is a proud moment for you and your franchise. Look, Sports on the Brain isn’t a political blog and I had no real intention of taking a stance on a political issue 2,500 kilometers from my stomping ground, but Sarver has taken a stand and for that I think we should applaud him. Of course, maybe I just think that because he took a political stand that I support…

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  1. Stephen
    May 7, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Great commentary on an owner and team who’ve taken an important stand. Now when is MLB going to live up to it’s history of promoting social justice and equality? Good article in SI by Melissa Sigura on this.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/melissa_segura/05/06/arizona.immigration/index.html

  2. May 15, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Yeah, I must admit that given the number of Latin MLB ball players, I wish that MLB would show some spine and take a stand, but…

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