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. Mike

    ACT: it's illegal immigrants that people are complaining about, immigrants ARE what make this country great. Illegal immigrants put incredible strain on the US infrastruture: social services, hospitals, law enforcement, etc. Every other country will consider you a criminal if you "invade" their country, but people come here and tell the US they want fair and equal rights. How can anyone support that (other then the illegals)? Get a clue.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chipped

    I find the name change offensive and racist. Why belittle hispanic people with this token display? Why not do something real? Get more hispanics involved in basketball. Outreach to hispanic commuinities might get hispanic attendance up and lord knows the NBA could use a few people coming to see them! Putting a spanish word on the jersey is like serving nothing but tacos at the stadium one night. It's appalling and demeaning!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MGram

    I wonder If Mr. Sarver would mind if thousands of people snuck into this game tonight, through the back door, without paying? I bet he would, though his idealogy on America is somehow different because it doesn't come directly out of his pocket. I suppose that Nash and company wouldn't mind people sneaking onto their property, using there water, electricity, etc. without paying. If I'm wrong and they would mind, they must be some kind of racist.

    I say lets forget the rule of law and let anybody do whatever they want anytime. That way noone's feelings get hurt.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JAck

    It's sad to see politics infiltrating sports. Professional sports was the only place that people form all different political, ethnic backrounds could come together and not worry about politics for once. Bad decision by the suns and the nba.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nancy

    Moron, Mexicans don't want special treatment, like everyone else just respect, and no not every Mexican has a Mexican flag, I have an American Flag right outside my door, not just because I live here but also out of respect for all the men of all cultures, of all different colors who fight for this country.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sue Workman

    Sports and politics....what strange bedfellows. Why would a group of people in the spotlight want to come out and make a statement supporting crime. After all it is ILLEGAL immigration....that is a crime. I, for one, have lost my respect for the Sun's orgainization. You all are put up as role models for our young people. What are you teaching them now??? Support Crime?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guest75

    To all those folks who say that the ILLEGAL "workers" are just coming here to do the jobs that Americans won't do, let me ask you this...if Americans weren't willing to do those jobs, how is it that this country made it this far? If there weren't for Americans picking crops, working the hotel industry, teens working fast food, etc., then how is it that we got along so fine from the dawn of this country through about the late 80's early 90's, when this whole ILLEGAL immigration thing exploded? A day without a Mexican would be a day that American citizens, who've been consistenly out of work ever since jobs started going to ILLEGAL "workers" might actually have a chance to earn a living in the country they were born in! Another thing...they are not just taking the jobs that "Americans don't want". Non-Spanish speaking Americans are increasingly being excluded from the workforce because they don't know Spanish. ILLEGAL "workers" can go to any community adult school in Los Angeles and learn English for free. But, the same avenue for employment is not offered to native English speakers. I dare you to find ANY job posting (at least for Los Angeles) for a position working with the public that doesn't say "Bilingual preferred". And, increaseingly, they say "Bilingual REQUIRED"! Now, you want to talk about morally wrong, what's more morally wrong than excluding legally residing citizens from jobs in their own country because they cannot speak the language of the ILLEGALS.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Josh

    It's ironic how the same people who support the Arizona immigration bill urge others to be informed and read the bill, but made generalizations and spread rumors about the Health Care Bill. The same people who want to uphold the laws refuse to acknowledge the new Health Care Law that will be upon us in a few years. This illustrates how political everything has become, and how everyone twists facts in a way that supports their ideology and argument.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RaRa

    Los Suns? ok, i now oppose the law. thanks NBA franchisee for opening my eyes.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jen

    POLITICS ON THE COURT BLAH BLAH BLAH.... and you think Politics in your home is any better?

    please... Americans are so ignorant, you believe anything you see on t.v.

    Immigration is a big problem for your borders, and it should be dealt with harshly and rapidly, BUT this law is the wrong way to go....

    May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JAck

    Honestly the best way to get rid of illegal immigration or at least to minimize it, is to stop Public funding i.e healthcare, school, excetra for illegals, It's a tough pill to swallow but its the only way.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kyle

    Boycotts can go both ways......I'm starting a boycott of all pro-illegal businesses

    May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Richp, Easton, Pa

    I'm proud of the 45 LEGAL immigrants I work with every day, Every single one of them is working towards citizenship, every one of them is here legally and went through the process.
    Those are the ones I want here.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ken roger

    Life long fan of the Suns, over 40 years. I am an Arizona native, Gone! I will not spend another nickle on tickets, hats, shirts, posters, NOTHING. In fact now I nope they lose in 5 against the Spurs, Enforcing an exhisting law and fixing our borders is PARAMOUNT, not a bunch of grown men who play a game for a living!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Alexisreal

    Some of these comments seriosuly needed some rethinking before being posted, but I suppose some people are just incabable of separating emotional and biased rhetoric from standard fact and data. Someone on here refered to Leandro Barbosa not being Hispanic and that somehow he shouldn't have been part of this dialogue. Well, I am Brazilian and and let me tell you, I am Latin and Hispanics are Latin. The term Hispanic shouldn't have ever been created but some people deemed it necessary that Spanish speaking people need be categorized. Although Brazilians speak a different language, we share virtually the same culture. And for your information, the US census also categorizes Hispanics as racially White or Black. For the most part, most of all of those immigrants in Arizona are therefore "white" according to this very country (USA). I merely state this because some people have the dillusion that Mexicans are not White. At one point in this country, Italians were not White, Irish were not White, Jews were not White. Do you see the trend here...a new scapegoat perhaps? Where is your thought on that you people that support the AZ law? I am for immigration reform and also believe in the respect of laws for the diligent order of any country. I disagree with illegal immigrants rallying and demanding rights in a country of which they are not yet a citizen..but there is where the issue lies. There needs to be a remedition to the status of people living here illegally..deportation is one avenue but we have seen that does not work. And when something does not work, what does logic tell us? Find and study an alternative. The AZ law is hasty at its attempt to deal with an issue it has created chaos and awakened racist epitaph in many people. One may argue that it is not racist to portect our laws, but if the law itself is worded in such a way that it enables racisim under the guise of being an enforceable law..then yes my friends the outcome is always based on racism. We have had laws in this naition before, and let me tell you, those laws were the quintessence of the most racist of dark evils and yet they were laws. There is an issue here that most certianly needs to be remediated..but this law is flawed in so many ways. What I have failed to see on these posts is a discernible alternative to what has been preseneted as a solution.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
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