Los Suns | 2019-20

FROM THE BEGINNING

The NBA launched Noche Latina during the 2006-07 season with branded jerseys, bilingual broadcasters and a night dedicated to Latin American heritage. While the league continued this tradition for years to come, no moment became more iconic than the one on May 5, 2010 when the Suns took a stand and changed basketball and sports forever.

The law SB 1070 had just passed in the state of Arizona, one of the strictest anti-illegal immigration laws to date, requiring local police to check the legal status of suspected undocumented immigrants. Many feared this would lead to racial profiling of the Latino community in Phoenix and that it went beyond the basic principles of equal rights.

What seems like common place today, basketball and politics were two completely separate worlds back then with very little history of crossing over. But by the Suns taking a stand against what they felt like was injustice, they impacted and influenced future basketball personalities by taking advantage of the platform they had available to them.

Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver, the players and the organization joined together to make a statement and show their solidarity for those impacted by the law by wearing their “Los Suns” jersey for Game 2 of their Western Conference Playoff Series against the San Antonio Spurs on Cinco De Mayo.

“Our players and organization felt that wearing our ‘Los Suns’ jerseys on Cinco de Mayo was a way for our team and our organization to honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the State of Arizona, and our nation,” Sarver said. “We are proud that 400 players from 36 countries compete in the NBA, and the league and the Suns have always considered that to be a great strength of the NBA.”

Sarver wasn’t the only one from the Suns organization to speak out as two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire shared their issues with the law and showed their support for the surrounding Latino community.

"I think the law is very misguided,” Nash told The Guardian. “I think it is unfortunately to the detriment to our society and our civil liberties and I think it is very important for us to stand up for things we believe in. I think the law obviously can target opportunities for racial profiling. Things we don't want to see and don't need to see in 2010."

"It's going to be great to wear Los Suns to let the Latin community know we're behind them 100%,” Stoudemire told The Guardian.

By wearing their “Los Suns” jerseys, the team was able to put their community first, speak out against injustice and change basketball history forever. The Suns impact reached the national level with outlets such as the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and ESPN as an entire organization took a stance on equal rights, unlike ever seen before.

“This kind of political intervention by a sports team is without precedent and now every athlete and every team has an opening to stand up and be heard,” Political Sporswriter Dave Zirin said. “Because when it's all said and done, this isn't just a battle for the soul of Arizona. It's a battle for the soul of the United States.”

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First Mexican-born NBA player

However, this wasn’t the first time the Suns made NBA history with their connection to the Hispanic community. Prior to 1996, no Mexican-born basketball player had ever touched the floor of an NBA court. But all that changed when the Suns signed local college basketball player, Horacio Llamas.

“When I was 17 or 18, I got interviewed in Mexico by a basketball magazine,” Llamas said.n “They asked me what were my dreams, my goals. I told them that I wanted to play in the NBA. Everybody that played basketball, they were telling me, ‘Don’t say that. People are going to think you’re crazy.’ I wasn’t just talking off. I was just saying the truth. Those were my feelings. Nobody thought that door was going to be open ever. Maybe sometimes you start to believe that if everyone is telling you, ‘No, no no, Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.’ But I just kept doing it.”

Llamas went undrafted in 1996, but a 10-day contract from the Suns in February of 1997 kept the dream alive for a man born in El Rosario, Sinaloa, Mexico. It took until the final day of the 10-day contract when Head Coach Danny Ainge finally called Llamas’ number.

While wearing a Suns jersey, Llamas checked into the game as he helped open the league’s eyes to an entire country’s worth of athletes and fans.

"Everything, the people, the players, they were all in slow motion until I went for the rebound and banged with another body," Llamas told ESPN.

He made his one and only shot of the game and ultimately earned himself a second 10-day contract following the Suns victory.

“You don’t realize in the beginning, a lot of athletes represent themselves and their families,” Llamas said. “After a while, I had to realize that there was a whole country behind me, watching me, supporting me, enjoying every single thing that I was doing. It was a big responsibility to be here.”

Although Llamas went on to play just 28 career games, in that time he was able to impact the history of the league and carved a pathway for future generations. Llamas now serves as an ambassador for the NBA and, more specifically, the NBA Mexico City Games.

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MEXICO CITY

The 2019 NBA Mexico City Games will feature a familiar face as the Suns return to Mexico for the second time in the last three years. The team will tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 14, marking the 30th NBA game in Mexico since 1992.

“We had a transcendent experience hosting two regular-season games in Mexico City in 2017 and our entire organization is excited about returning to Mexico as a home team next season,” Suns President Jason Rowley said. “Our relationship with Mexico is special and it’s a tremendous opportunity to continue engaging our growing group of supporters in that region, while helping expand the NBA and the game of basketball to a very passionate fan base.”

Since the Suns first appearance in Mexico in 1996 to the returning trip this season, the organization has shown their consistent dedication to making the Suns the NBA team of Mexico. And, their star player has only helped in that goal. Devin Booker not only shares Mexican heritage, but also put on quite the showcase under the bright lights in the team’s visit to Mexico City during his sophomore season. The Suns were the host team for the 2017 NBA Mexico City Games, playing two games against the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs.

In both games Booker made history.

Jan. 12, 2017 vs Dallas Mavericks

28 points. 81% shooting. Five-of-six from the three-point line. That stat line would be a great game for any player, but Booker managed to accomplish this in just the fourth quarter alone. At just 20-years-old, Booker set a Suns franchise record with the most points in a quarter with 28.

The 20-year-old not only set a franchise record, but made NBA history as well. His then-career-high 39 points in that game were the most points scored in an NBA regular season game held in Mexico.

That was until that record was matched two days later…by himself.

Jan. 14, 2017 vs San Antonio Spurs

Booker took ahold of the top two scoring spots in NBA history in a regular season game played in Mexico as he scored another 39 points against the Spurs just two days later. Booker threw down a slam in the final minute, notching his 39th point and closing out the game with a 108-105 victory for the Suns.

Booker’s performances grew his popularity and ultimately landed himself advertisements for the Spanish-branded cereal, Zucaritas, as the Suns star’s face became widely recognizable throughout Mexico.

JERSEY HISTORY

These moments became an iconic part of Booker’s early career and it was done so with “Los Suns” across his chest, a tradition the Suns have kept over the past decade. When the NBA switched jersey manufactures from Adidas to Nike, each team was limited to just four jerseys, putting the majority of Noche Latina jerseys out of rotation.

That was for all except the Suns.

The Suns took it upon themselves to dedicate their City Edition jersey to “Los Suns” and continue to show their support of their Hispanic fanbase. The team has seen many different styles, colors, designs, sleeved and non-sleeved options throughout the years, but the Suns message has remained consistent in paying homage to the community around them.

The Suns originally sported their bright neon-orange “Los Suns” jersey, taking them through SB 1070 and the three years following. In 2013-14, the Suns debuted a black sleeved jersey with orange font for their first new look in the “Los Suns” era. This was followed up with a purple sleeveless option the following year that continued through their last trip to Mexico.

When Nike took over, the Suns edited the design of the jersey, but continued the trend of purple that they had for the previous three years of “Los Suns.” The 2017-18 design presented a new font on the front with a Phoenix inspired constellation on the back. The concept remained slightly similar for their 2018-19 campaign with a change-of-pace shade of purple with an orange outline, but the biggest addition was on the shorts. The Arizona flag was added to the bottom of the right thigh as the team continued to highlight the Hispanic community within their state.

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2009-2013

2013-2014

2014-2017

2018-2019

Los Suns Noche City Edition

The Suns are now bringing black back for 2019-20. In what is almost an exact replica of their jersey last season, the Suns are throwing it back to 2013-14 with their new black-themed “Los Suns Noche City Edition” jersey. With the flag remaining on the shorts and the addition of purple and orange trim, the jersey brings a sense of the past, but with some new taste to “Los Suns.”

The Suns will debut their newest new Los Suns Noche City Edition jersey on Dec. 9 against the Minnesota Timberwolves for Hornitos Fiesta Night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. And, of course, the jersey will be traveling with the team down for the Mexico City Game against the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 14, as well as other special occasions throughout the year.

The jersey made it’s reveal at a private showcase in Phoenix on Friday for the Hispanic community it is honoring. The gallery made of past “Los Suns” jerseys, photos and memorabilia will be available to the public throughout the weekend for a deeper look into the history behind the campaign.

PAYING HOMAGE

Just as the Suns did last year, the team will once again turn to a muralist to help paint the city and pay homage to the Mexican culture in Phoenix. Longtime downtown Phoenix resident and local artist Lalo Cota has created murals throughout the Valley for 30 years, including a Los Suns inspired piece last year to assist in the launch of the jersey.

“The main inspiration for my work is Mexican folklore and surrealism,” Cota said. “That’s why when the Phoenix Suns asked about doing something for their Los Suns brand, it was second nature to me.”

Cota was called upon again in advance of the 2019-20 “Los Suns” jersey launch to mix his style with Mexican culture as well as his admiration towards the Suns to design a new mural in the Roosevelt Row Art District on the east side of Carly’s Bistro (128 E. Roosevelt on the NW corner of East Roosevelt and North Second Streets).

The newest design features Mexican-influenced caricatures of Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio as skeletons in the team’s newest City Edition uniforms.

“The Suns have historically worn ‘Los Suns’, and showcased their ties to the Mexican community,” Cota said. “It pays homage to it and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

The Suns will hit the court sporting “Los Suns” across their chess on Dec. 9, but the mural is already on display in the heart of Phoenix.

UPCOMING GAMES IN
LOS SUNS NOCHE CITY EDITION UNIFORMS

Dec 9th vs Wolves

Dec 14th vs Spurs

Dec 21st vs Rockets

Jan 1st vs Lakers

Feb 8th vs Nuggets

March 3rd vs Raptors

April 13th vs Rockets

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