On Wednesday, the Phoenix Suns announced they will become the first NBA team to play back-to-back regular-season games in Mexico when they take on the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City next season.
While attending the announcement at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton took a not-so-subtle jab at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and others who support building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Stanton, who has been Phoenix's mayor since 2011, said he is proud “that we have an NBA franchise in our city that is building bridges to Mexico and not walls."
Viva #LosSuns! It's important to have a franchise that builds bridges & not walls. #SunsInMexico #SomosPHX pic.twitter.com/OnARUtTY55
— Greg Stanton (@MayorStanton) July 20, 2016
"That is so important for this franchise. As mayor, I just want to say thank you," Stanton told Suns president Jason Rowley and coach Earl Watson, who were also on hand Wednesday.
Stanton later seemed to reference Arizona SB 1070, an anti-illegal immigration measure signed by then-Arizona governor Jan Brewer in 2010. Most of the law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
“It wasn’t that long ago of course that the relationship (with Mexico) wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been. Laws were being passed that were being very divisive,” Stanton said.
“I will never forget this franchise, the commitment of (Suns owner Robert) Sarver and this franchise that, at so many ways during the worst of times, they put on those uniforms that said ‘Los Suns’ and sent a message to our local Latino community, that we stand with you.
“This is another commitment by this franchise to say how important this relationship is with citizens from Mexico and local individuals of Mexican descent. We stand with you. You are our future. This franchise has a great history of doing so.”
Stanton said he’s working to expand Phoenix’s relationship with Mexico, including changing a law to extend border crossing cards from 75 to 250 miles so Mexican citizens can visit Phoenix more easily.
“We will soon be a majority Latino city. (We have) so many with family connections, friend connections with Mexico,” he said. “It’s our greatest strength, our people. Our greatest asset.
“The opportunity for this franchise to spend many days down in Mexico, building that fan base, I support you. I want our team, the Phoenix Suns, to be the favorite of the fan base in Mexico.”
Stanton said he plans to attend both games in Mexico City and encourages fellow Suns fans to do the same.
“Let’s bring a large delegation of folks to cheer on our Suns in Mexico City, see the incredible culture and growing economy and middle class that’s happening in Mexico that I’ve been able to see during my 13 trade missions to Mexico during the time I’ve been mayor,” he said. “Our most important relationship is with our friends in Mexico.”