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Lakers-Suns “Mayor’s bet” involves immigration debate

The “Mayor’s bet” is a time-honored tradition in sports. When two teams meet in a big playoff series, it’s common for the mayors of the cities the teams play in to make a friendly wager. Sometimes a cities bet a few truckloads of food. Sometimes they have to temporarily change the name of something. You know, fun stuff.

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has written a letter to Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon offering him a wager on the Lakers-Suns playoff series, but it’s not the kind of wager we usually see in a “mayor’s bet.” According to the Associated Press, the terms of Villaraigosa’s bet state that Los Angeles will accept ownership of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Ariapo if the Suns win. Villaraigosa’s letter says that a stint in Los Angeles would “teach Ariapo that a person’s immigration status can’t be judged by appearance.” If the Lakers lose, Villaraigosa says that Arizona can have Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, both of whom are running for governor and have hard-line stances on immigration.

This is just the latest example of politics in the Lakers-Suns series. First, the Suns protested Arizona’s new immigration statute by wearing their “Los Suns” jerseys during a game against the Spurs. Phil Jackson fanned the flames of the debate by seemingly supporting the bill during a pre-game press conference. Those comments sparked a protest, which took place before Monday’s game one.