I think I’m now a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers. 🙂 They are certainly living up to their name blazing a trail for the rest of the NBA.
In an era where the NBA appears most focused on increasing its market share both domestically and abroad, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that each franchise represents a community. For many of these teams — particularly those in smaller markets — responsibilities include not just winning games and rewarding fan loyalty, but also broadcasting the character of a city to the rest of the country and world. A basketball fan in Miami, for instance, may only come to know Milwaukee through his experience of the Bucks. Profit typically comes first for every team in the league, but that doesn’t mean that their civic duty is immaterial.
These factors factors help explain why, in rare cases, a team feels the need to make a political statement on behalf of its city and fans. During the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Phoenix Suns spoke out against Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 bill, which effectively allowed law enforcement officials to stop anyone on the suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. In their view, it was important enough to support their Latino fans and make a statement on behalf of equality in Arizona.