Two Phoenix Suns' Fans Ejected for Pro-Arizona Immigration Law T-Shirts

Brian TuohyCorrespondent IMay 18, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Antonio Banderas attends Game One of the Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

According to the website, two Phoenix Suns' fans were pulled from their courtside seats during last Wednesday's Spurs-Suns game in Phoenix due to their pro-Arizona immigration law shirts.

The offending shirts were bright orange and read "Viva Los 1070," which is in reference to Arizona's recently passed immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.

One of the two fans, a Phoenix-area businessman named Jim Clark, stated the reason he wore the shirt was in response to the Suns' decision to wear uniforms bearing the name "Los Suns" on Cinco de Mayo.

According to Clark, he and his friend were visited by four security guards shortly after the game began. They were told to either remove their shirts or turn them inside out. When they refused, the pair were escorted out of the arena.

After talking to the stadium's security manager, both fans were allowed back into the arena with their shirts still showing as they received cheers and high-fives.

Clark claims the party responsible for fingering him and his friend were the NBA's broadcast partner for that game, TNT. The shirts were clearly visible within the broadcast due to Clark's seat in the front row. A TNT spokesperson denied that claim.

After the game, Clark was contacted by Suns president Rick Welts, who apologized for the incident.

The question still remains, who demanded the fans' removal? No entity is taking responsibility—not the NBA, TNT, the Suns, or stadium officials.

While one could make the argument that the request to remove the shirts was a safety issue to stop any trouble before it began, as the immigration law is such a hot-button issue in Arizona, Clark did not state this was the reason for his temporary ejection.

In fact, no one seemed to give him a clear reason why the shirts were deemed "offensive."

The obvious culprit—the one Clark believed responsible—is TNT. Yet they deny it. Could a TV network hold that much sway over fans as to demand their ejection due to the clothing (or signs) they may display during the game? Is this a censorship issue that may crop up again in the near future?

It will be, as Clark stated his intent to continue to wear the Viva Los 1070 shirt to future Suns playoff games.