PHOENIX, ARIZONA—Game 2 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs had a bizarre start, as State Police detained all of the international players from each team to verify their work visas. Three Suns (Steve Nash, Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa) and three Spurs (Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Ian Mahinmi) were handcuffed and dragged out of the US Airways Center before the start of the game, leaving both teams depleted of their stars.
The Suns organization’s public denouncement of the new Arizona immigration law is the likely reason for the sweep led by Chief Thomas Lane. Lane’s officers were seen being particularly rough with Canadian star point guard Steve Nash, who was the spokesman for the Suns’ support of Arizona’s Latino community when he announced that the team would don jerseys that read “Los Suns.” Nash and co. also wore these jerseys in March during the NBA’s Latino Appreciation Night.
The short-staffed teams tipped off over an hour after the scheduled time, visibly shaken by the interruption. Spurs forward Tim Duncan, not known for being emotional, surprised everyone with his complete outrage over the situation. Even after the authorities excused him from the sweep (Duncan was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands), Duncan was heard shouting, “What are we supposed to do now?” most likely referring to the loss of his teammates (Ginobili and Parker) who have been integral to the team’s success for three of their four championships.
The Suns cruised to victory with Grant Hill reviving his role as point-forward and the relentless offensive onslaught of guard Jason Richardson and forward Amare Stoudemire. Spurs point guard George Hill played his heart out in Tony Parker’s absence, but the Suns offensive tempo was too much to overcome without the help of their immigrant starters.
NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement via Twitter about the incident: “If the state of Arizona is worried about “terror,” I’ll show them what terror is all about. I’m David Stern, and my money shan’t be played with.”