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. Phillip

    hey Americans why dont you come to el Salvador and we would kick tou **** with the MS 13

    May 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Pam

    Why not "các mặt trời"? thats "the suns" in vietnamese. i know there are illegal vietnamese here. Why are you picking only on the mexicans?

    May 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ken

    Sometimes the comment section of reports should be turned off.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Greg

    Shouldn't it be Los Soles?

    I think everyone should show up to the next home game, without a ticket, sneak in and demand free beer and nachos.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. gomezbaby

    Just a little side note: so many people here are saying to just come to the US legally. It is not easy at all to "just come legally." I am an American married with kids to someone from South America and we are getting his Citizenship legally but our lawyer (an American) has told us over and over that their job is to find any reason to deny the visa, residency, citizenship, etc. My husband's family has been denied visas just to visit over and over and over because they can't prove that they have enough ties to come back to their home country. They don't want to live here...they just want to see their grandchildren. In any case, I support the bill for illegal immigrants being detained and deported because they are breaking the laws. I just wanted to make sure people knew that there is nothing easy about being able to come to this country legally.

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

    do you think you are the only ones in the world guess what you are NOT

    May 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Texas Born

    Thanks for the comments. I'm actually a woman, and now live in Kansas...thank goodness we don't have AS many pieces of crap here! Too bad I can't come through the screen and kick some of your a55e5. I will raise my boys right, and they will know how worthless YOU PEOPLE are...yes, you mexican, spanish, latino, wetback waste of space! And yes, I'm not denying I'm racist only about mexicans because I've had to put up with them for the 30 years when I lived in Texas, LEGALLY. They are the whiniest, need a handout, worthless, non-working, smelliest people you will EVER meet. Disisme..you're probably one of them, aren't you?

    May 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ava

    Since when is Spanish this country's language? I am so sick of one culture being coddled too. The law that AZ passed is about ILLEGAL immigration. It is NOT about Immigration generally. Since when is the NBA supporting illegal immigration because that is what that law is about. Nothing more. Why should people who break our country's laws become supported and given the same equal protection????
    I disagree strongly with the owner of The Suns and NBA Commissioner David Stern. Stern calls 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.” The basic notion of fairness and equal protection is for those of us born and legalized citizen. Period. I am so fed up with the blurred lines of immigration and "ILLEGAL" immigration. They are NOT one and the same. It is two different and separate issues.
    I don't see this county bending over backwards for illegal Italians, Asians, etc.
    I saw make English our official language. I am tired of hearing "no habla ingles." For pete sake, stop mixing the issues up!!!!!

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

    THIS IS STUPIDE! THERE SHOULD BE NO ROOM IN SPORTS FOR POLITICS. THEY SHOULD BE B
    BOYCOTTED FOR BEING UN-AMERICAN.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Phillip

    why dont you Texas Born go to your moms to cry Bic*****h

    May 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ConcernedAmerican

    Whats concerning is that the law allows for an officer to demand proof of citizenship. First of all most of the people who say its great are white, and will never be questioned and made to prove their citizenship. Im speaking as a Latino, who was born in this country, from parents who are both born as American Citizens. For all of you who think this is a great idea, you're sorely mistaken. You are supporting a law that sets a horrible precedent. Dont start crying when a state decides that "for the good of its citizens" they will just start enacting other laws, that will end up affecting you and your precious families.
    ENJOY!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Austin

    Maybe Los Soles should move their franchise to Mexico. I am sure they would feel at home then.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Syphon Filter

    It's funny to read those comments against the Suns wearing jerseys supporting the Hispanic Community. Whether right or wrong, history will tell the true story, take for instance, when the Olympics were held in Germany, and when the Black U.S. Athletes held their fists high with black gloves made a statement, whether you agree with them or not. Everyone has a right to their own political view and belief in this country because if no one had the opportunity to express themselves then we would be living in a repressive country with no freedom. Sure, don't show up to the game if your against the team wearing the jersey, it's your god given right to express yourself freely. Don't buy tickets and or boycott them. But from the look at things it looks like the Suns game will be sold out, and when we look back at this gesture to the Hispanic community from the Suns, I am positive that it will be looked upon as a bold and truly American statement denouncing Racism and bigotry.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Patriot

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    May 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Phillip

    Texas Born you can go and kiss my a*********ss
    why dont you come to my country to vacations I would tech you some lessons

    May 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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