May 5th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Immigration takes center court at Suns-Spurs playoffs

The Phoenix Suns will once again don their "Los Suns" jersey -- this time in response to Arizona's new immigration law.

It’s not often point guards and power forwards partake in politics.

Responding to a recently passed immigration policy in Arizona, the Phoenix Suns will take the court Wednesday in jerseys bearing their name in Spanish.

Robert Sarver, owner of “Los Suns,” said his team will wear the jerseys during Game Two of its playoff matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, which falls on the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo.

“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,” he said in a statement.

The move was designed, in part, to honor Phoenix’s Latino community, Sarver said.

The Suns also have a Latin-born player, guard Leandro Barbosa of Brazil. He is one of the NBA’s 18 players from Latin America. Hispanics compose about 15 percent of the NBA’s market, according to the league.

The new immigration law, which goes into effect in August, allows police in Arizona to demand proof of residency. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling. Proponents say it’s a necessary response to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into the state.

The Suns’ protest was roundly supported by NBA players and officials, according to an NBA.com report.

NBA Commissioner David Stern called the move “appropriate.” The NBA Players Association also praised the protest as NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter called the immigration law “offensive and incompatible with the basic notions of fairness and equal protection.”

Added star point guard Steve Nash: “Obviously the passing of the recent bill and what that means to our state, to civil liberties, and the quality and precedent it’s setting, and message it sends to our youngsters in the community, we have a problem with that. It's great that our owner took the initiative and our players are behind him.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick, the always outspoken Charles Barkley said the immigration law offended him, both as an African-American and as a resident of Arizona. He suggested the policy was merely a political ploy.

“Most of those immigrants here are busting their hump, doing a great job, and to go after them every couple of years because you want to raise hell doing something to get re-elected, that’s disrespectful and disgusting,” he said.

Despite that the Spurs will do battle with the Suns at 8 p.m. ET, at least one San Antonio player was able to find solidarity with his rivals.

Argentina-born guard Manu Ginobili said he hopes Arizona can find another way to deal with its immigration woes.

“I hope they change [the law] back to what it was and give the workers the possibility to be legal and pay taxes as everyone else,” he told NBA.com.

Wednesday won’t be the first time the NBA has honored the Latino community. In March, the league held Noche Latina (Latin Night), with Los Lakers, the Knicks of Nueva York, Miami’s El Heat and Dallas’ Los Mavs among nine teams wearing Spanish-language jerseys.

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Filed under: Immigration • Sports
soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. Eduardo

    plopsdad – Oh ok, but it was legal when Christopher Columbus came to america and whipped out the native americans(the indians)? Because there were no such "law" back then that protect the indians...and lets be real, hispanics dont try to take over anything. The job is giving to them because they know how to do the job well and at a cheap price. American business owners are the ones to blame for that so whats your arguement?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Natalie

    It doesn't matter how the name on the Jersey is spelled I think we get the message on what they are trying to say. This law reminds me of let me see your "freedom papers" like back in the slavery days. This is unexceptable. Surely they can find a better way to handle immigration.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. USMC chris

    -A one-year pause in immigration would reduce GDP by $171 billion, cause 1 million LEGAL U.S. workers to lose their jobs, reduce American workers' after-tax income by $60 billion and decrease tax revenues at all levels of government.
    -Roughly 43 percent of Arizona's gross state product in 2004 was generated by industries that rely heavily on immigrant labor.

    http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1721

    This issue is not so black and white. Lots of LEGAL workers jobs rely on illegal immigration to support our economy. Our country would collapse if we stopped illegal immigration. Yet border security is a huge priority too. But to say illegal immigrants are just a negative is totally ignorant.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. CjsMom

    IN YOUR FACE - Thanks for your insightful comments. I have a bet going with people in my office that you are incapable of saying anything intelligent. May be the easiest $1 I ever make ...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Manuel Gonzalez

    Let them work and be happy. If they break the laws of the country, then punish them just like you would everyone else.They don't pay tax because they are ot allowed to obtain a job. Allow them to work and pay tax just like everyone else and that will help support the economy. What ever happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Our ancestors all were"immigrants" at one time. And yes, free speech. Remember?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. alex

    well the real immigrants came from england to still this land lets not be fools and they still here and they did american indians and mexican too. now this people of our time think that they are legal please ur roots if u are white came from england thats why you speak inglish and not indian like did native american indian.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Zach

    Did I miss something? Is anyone saying that they are in favor of illegal immigration? Is that what the Suns are putting on the jerseys tonight?

    People who oppose the law don't like illegal immigration, they are simply opposed to the racial profiling that is bound to happen and the infringement of civil liberties inherent in this law. I don't like the fact that with this law anyone could be stopped by the cops and asked to show proof of being a legal resident. It puts too much power into the hands of the police, who being human, are biased and subjective no matter how much they could try to do to change that. They will see what they want to see, and it will harm many people who are here legally.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. THINK ..... REALLY THINK

    THE REAL CRIMINALS ARE THE --EMPLOYERS---

    THE ONLY REASON.... THE ONLY REASON WHY WE HAVE A PROBLEM IS BECAUSE THE U.S. EMPLOYER CHEATS ON PAYING TAXES. THEY ASK "JOSE" THE EMPLOYEE TO BRING AS MANY FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS TO WORK BECAUSE THEY DO IT THE BEST FOR CASH. WIN – WIN SITUATION.

    IF THAT WAS NOT THE SITUATION, MEXICAN WOULD NOT COME TO U.S. TO HANG OUT. THEY HAVE IT BETTER IN MEXICO IF THEY JUST WANT TO HANG OUT.

    GO AFTER THE U.S. EMPLOYERS AND WATCH THEM GO BACK HOME AND APPLY THE RIGHT WAY.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. CjsMom

    Zach – what do you propose?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Pancho Puke-o

    Let them work and be happy. If they break the laws of the country, then punish them just like you would everyone else.They don't pay tax because they are ot allowed to obtain a job. Allow them to work and pay tax just like everyone else and that will help support the economy. What ever happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Our ancestors all were"immigrants" at one time. And yes, free speech. Remember?

    __________

    Are all Latinos this ignorant and stupid? It seems so.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. alex

    this is still mexican land and they can kick us out but our roots will never leave this country thats why the government is scare

    May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Danae

    We all have to have a drivers license to show we are legal drivers and if they aren't doing anything illegal and have the proof to show they are a LEGAL citizen then have nothing to fear. That simple. I will not support the suns any longer. Go Spurs.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Steve

    Oscar, if you know anything about Spanish its that proper nouns aren't translated. Names are proper nouns. Something like Stephen in English is your name in Spanish. It isn't changed to Esteban just like a regular noun would be. I think the new immigration laws are great. There are way too many illegals entering the US and taking advantage of our country. However, I do think that if immigrants should carry papers all US citizens should carry proof of residency as well.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Robert

    I feel that if the President and Federal Gov is not protecting our cuontry then it must be up to the States. The high costs brought on by those in this country illegally is more than some states can handle. Also, the NBA should stick to playing their game. On the name change –

    I agree with Oscar and could not say it better – "Happy May 5th everyone !! My comment is as follows: if they went through the trouble of changing the name of the jerseys why not do it all the way. That is LOS SOLES instead of LOS SUNS. I'm sorry, but SUN is not Spanish for SUN ... I'm just saying ..."

    May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. plopsdad

    Eduardo

    Thats right, and thats the way it was done back than. And lets not forget ol' chris wasnt the only one to go off on Native Americans. You want to see who else did that, you might not like the answer

    May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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