rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Steve Nash and 'Los Suns' step up against Arizona's racist law

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

On the court and off, Canadian basketball star Steve Nash has come through in the clutch once again. In the midst of their second round NBA playoff series against their bitter rivals the San Antonio Spurs, Nash and the entire Phoenix Suns organization spoke out against law SB-1070, which has been described as 'legalizing racial profiling'. Not only that, but last night the team donned special 'Los Suns' jerseys on the occasion of Cinco de Mayo to celebrate the Latino community in Arizona and the United States. Los Suns won the game, but this victory goes way beyond the basketball court.

This public stand was initiated by the Suns owner, Robert Sarver, and supported by general manager Steve Kerr and all of the team's players. Democracy Now! has an interview today with radical sports writer Dave Zirin, explaining the signficance of the Suns move:

"Anybody who believes that sports cannot be an effective platform for social justice need only to have watched the game last night and they would’ve been forever changed. The broadcast alone last night, it started with one of the NBA reporters outside the arena covering a civil rights march that was taking place outside the arena. And then the in-studio hosts, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Chris Weber, all former players, took turns taking shots a Governor Jan Brewer and the law. And Chris Weber, former player, even cited “By the Time I Get to Arizona” and John McCain and his former support for boycotting the holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King. So it’s politicized this entire arena. And what the Suns did yesterday, is entirely without precedent."

It's unusual for pro athletes to take political stands, but they are being spurred on by a broad and dynamic protest movement that is taking on Arizona's anti-immigrant politics.

The fact that Nash -- a 36 year-old point guard and two-time NBA MVP from Victoria, B.C. -- is the Suns leader on and off the court is not insignificant in terms of the way the team has reacted. Back in 2003, Nash, then playing for the Dallas Mavericks, made waves by using the platform of the NBA All-Star Weekend to denounce the war in Iraq. Wearing a t-shirt that read 'Shoot for Peace', Nash made his opposition clear and never backed down, despite criticism from some of his NBA peers, fans and the media.

It isn't easy to be up front with anti-war politics in Texas, or pro immigrant rights politics in Arizona, so Nash and, in this case, his teammates deserve credit for speaking up. The norm is for pro athletes to dodge hot button issues, or to outright endorse right-wing politicians. Michael Jordan infamously explained his lack of opposition to the racist Jesse Helms by stating, "Republicans buy sneakers too". 

Canada's Jordan is without a doubt Wayne Gretzky, who described George W. Bush as "a wonderful president" back in 2003. At the time, I wrote an article contrasting Nash and Gretzky: similar in their creativity and brilliant athleticism, but opposite in their politics, "Given his performance off the court in the growing spotlight, one might just be forgiven for believing -- amidst all the well-founded cynicism about today's pro sports world – that all of this success won't spoil Steve Nash."

This week Nash and Los Suns have shown that athletes can indeed score points for social movements. Who knows, but here's hoping that last night's win will be an important assist on the way to a much bigger victory to come: the defeat of SB-1070.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.