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 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

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. Robert

    I'm sorry, who invaded who first?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. MAMAS

    I think it is time to boycott the LOS SUNS!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. stan

    You guys are ignorant, go ahead chance work in the fields and plow the land....because i know you want to do just that. They do the jobs that you don't want to do. Please tell me what other country that has immigration problems demand papers from people every chance they get? They don't get real people.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. John

    I have no problem with people that come to this country legally. It's the CRIMINALS that broke the law the day they came here illegally and continue to break the law every day they stay here.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. mike smith

    I will not watch the game tonight or support the Suns ever again. With millions Americans as well as legal immigrants out of work, I found it appalling that any American Businessman or Co. would support illegal immigration.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. nostradamus

    Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan, explored the area in 1539 and met its original native inhabitants, probably the Sobaipuri. The expedition of Spanish explorer Coronado entered the area in 1540–42 during its search for Cíbola. Society of Jesus Father Kino developed a chain of missions and taught the Indians Christianity in Pimería Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora) in the 1690s and early 1700s. Spain founded presidios (fortified towns) at Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775. <<<<<<>>>>>>>>>. No further comment. Pro Immigrant Defence Rests.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Linda

    @Eric, (Mexican) I have never in my life hired a Mexican for anything. Just dream on.
    Once again, quit crying about doing lowly jobs. You do lowly jobs because you under sell the Americans, the very people you want a handout from. If you don't like doing the lowly jobs, then go home and shut up. We did not invite you here, you came here to do the lowly jobs, take over our jobs for less and have your anchor babies so you can cry pooooooor us, see how mean you racists, bigots, Nazis, Hitlers are..Yah, we really want you here to clean our tubs. Dream on. Must have hit a sore spot called the truth, the very thing you Mexicans like to twist.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. SBM

    Major League Baseball will continue its pursuit of having Cuba participate in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March despite an adverse ruling this week by the U.S. Treasury Department, MLB's top official in charge of the tournament said on Friday.

    pretty hipocritical that they want to exclude politics when it's convinient and include it when it isn't. MLB and all others should seperate politics from Sports

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    So you're telling me you get your political views from watching sporting events? Spare me the insults about my education and find something better to do with your time...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    "Illegal immmigrant" does not equal "Hispanic." Stop acting like immigration enforcement is race based. They'll deport an illegal Frenchman just as quickly.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    'In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language.. And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.'
    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

    May 5, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. plopsdad


    Does that include construction jobs also? Search usa today for a story on how farmersa re now hiring citizens to do farm work.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ega

    "Brazil is a Latin country, not Hispanic.
    Posted by: TMS"

    Do you even know what the term Hispanic means??????? most latinos do not know the difference!!!! can you explain it to me please????? and I want an actual definition not your interpretation of the word.

    Somebody also said that because this player is black he does not relate to the people affected by the law. Latin American countries do not have a specific race. When spaniards came over they mixed with everything and anything and tons of mixes were the result. In latin america people do not care about color of skin but about culture (and in my country, educational levels)

    May 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. gm

    Go Suns!!!! Finally, someone who can really look past all the hate and admit this law is a stupid one.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Holly Gonzales

    Hey nice jerseys but I still think that the bill should be center court...this is how I look at it. We should respect those from others countries that put in the effort to become citizens to those who come here illegally. I am not against other races and their holidays, shoot, I like to embrace other cultures.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
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