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. Barry

    Charles Barkley? Does anyone really take him seriously? Sometimes when I'm in a debate, regardless of which side I'm on, there are certain people I don't want jumping in on my side. Their complete lack of intelligence on the topic at hand only discredits my argument. If I were against this bill (which I am not) I would prefer if Charles Barkley and Shakira kept their mouths shut. Further more, they should do a better job of gathering a more diverse group together to question on the topic. When did athletes become important in political debates? I doubt if they notice that their tax dollars are paying for someone else's education and healthcare while no contributions are made by the person benefitting. Every major issue that comes up is always followed by celebrities jumping on the left side as fast as possible. Perhaps no one wants to be alienated by their colleagues for sharing a different opinion? We've seen in the past what can happen when you think for yourself. Look at that woman from the old "Law and Order" (I forget her name). When she said she didn't agree with Obama's spending her fellow actors immediately branded her a racist. It's said that separate views are no longer tolerated. And that goes for the Republicans complete discredit of any liberal ideas as well. Screw both parties.

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

    About 40 years from now a quarter the grandchildren of those who commented on this article will be begging to score some low paying out-sourced job from some company located in China. The other three quarters will be walking bamboo scaffolding in Beijing. So do your grandchildren a favor and make sure they learn Mandarin.

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

    Because these multi-millionaires have ANY clue about reality in the first place. They are used to getting away with felonies so they see no reason these other felons should not get away with it as well. Mexico shoots its illegals in the south, but we can;t arrest ours.

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

    On a side note, didn't we leave England to get away from a oppressive government....they're doing just that...Mexico isn't a safe place to live.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. plopsdad


    The topix is not immigrants, its illegal immigrants

    May 5, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. El Jefe

    Does the "mis" translated name of a million dollar NBA team really matter? Even if it is the team from a state with idiotic ideals and laws like the one to go into effect in August. I hope the fuzz, or los Cops stop someone who has the power and authority to actually make this stupid law a big deal and see what happens. This is only going to affect the state of AZ in the long run. Let's see what happens when AZ has to fall back on those who are being discriminated against! Good luck with that one!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    "Los Suns" hahaha they are supporting the spanish speaking community by showing they don't know the language. Hilarious!! You can't make this stuff up. I agree change your names to "Los Soles" permanently.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pancho!!!Cabrones!!


    May 5, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Barry


    May 5, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Phillip

    whay do you think only Mexico exist , go and check a map Below Mexico , United States Of America dont believe that ...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rick Beigler

    For those of you whining about keeping politics and sports separated, were you crying the same tune when the first baseball game was played at Yankee Stadium after 9/11? Why didn't you criticize Derek Jeter for waving an American flag? Or Rudy Gulliani for expressing his support for our country at the game?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. stmpstud

    This is exactly why basket players need to stay out of politics. You make that $$$ for throwing a ball around not being smart...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. H.A.

    It is the 5th of July and thats why they are wearing the "Los Suns" Jerseys which by the way is correct. This is not the first time NBA teams wear their jerseys in Spanish. The Suns is a noun, therefore you dont translate. You wouldn't call Mr. Red Mr. Rojo. Would you? Arizona is blind in enforcing this law. An immigrant will enter the States and will not care about any law and they will falsify papers. This will only create hostility to the Hispanics who have become citizens the right way.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. jaz

    America... the racist land of the Green Goats. If you're not a Green Goat, you must be an illegal, a terrorist, a criminal.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    Stan you are an idiot. Like I said, illegals do jobs Americans will do, but for less money and in unsafe conditions. I think we need to close off the Mexican border until we deport all these illegals. Mexico gives us nothing but unskilled, useless people. Most of our trade (including oil) is with Canada anyway. Send the military to the Mexican border!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
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