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. Brandi

    @ Sue Workman! Couldn't have said it better myself!

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

    The first time my girlfriend (a Phoenix native whose Mexican-American family has been here legally for generations) gets asked to prove her citizenship, look out. The immigration issue is not new, nor is racism, or the willingness of many to sacrifice the liberties of others for their political or social objectives. Woody Guthrie was singing about these same issues in the late 1940s with his song "Deportee" about the crash of a plan in Los Gatos Canyon that killed 4 Americans and 32 migrant workers being deported. None of the deportees names were listed in the news stories about the crash and they were buried in a mass grave. Here are the lyrics:
    More than 60 years later, we are still unable to address the situation in a meaningful, humane and just way.

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

    Your math skills are unsurpassed. You assumed I have worked every year since entering the US; then you divided. Epic genius is what you are. I am just a lowly worker, but I am here. To further prove your math skills, please solve this problem. I now have two jobs and four children. What is the total number of things you can do to restrict my personal freedoms? Hint: Anything multiplied times zero is zero.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Williams

    What will the jerseys read when they honor the murdered rancher and the other victims of the illegals?

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

    BOYCOTT THE SUNS AND BOYCOTT THE NBA!!! If Steve Nash opposes this law so much, why doesn't he help start a program to send all the illegals to Canada? I'm sick of everyone ramming their political agendas down my throat in inappropriate arenas (sports, award shows, etc). I am still amazed at all this uproar and backlash, over what basically amounts to enforcement of a law that has been in effect for many years. It's similar to getting a jaywalking ticket and then holding a MAJOR protest because the police actually gave me a ticket for breaking the law.

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

    I never argued that it hasn't happened before... if you look back at my first post I even say "once again". I was merely stating my disgust that an event that SHOULD be used purely for the entertainment of anyone who cares to watch it is now being charaded as a stage for projecting an agenda.... AGAIN. My "ignornace" to history has nothing to do with it.... get over yourself man.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sammy

    :::::::: Breaking News :::::::

    The Suns will allow 100,000 to sneak in the back entrance for tonight’s games free of charge!!! They will not be checked for ID. They will also be allowed to eat and drink at the expense of paying patrons. If they don't like their seats they may cry racism and force paying patrons to move aside.
    Now enjoy your game!

    :::::::: Breaking News :::::::

    May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Miguel

    No more Suns for me. No more season passes for that matter.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brandi

    They are just doing this so people don't boycott them like they are the rest of the state... They don't want to lose money...

    May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. liz

    If Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck et al can use their celebrity for a cause why not an NBA team?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ANNA


    May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nostradamus

    The United States owns several International Banks especialists in make billionaire shark loans to Third World Countries. Interests charged are highest. When those poor countries default their loans, the IMF and World Bank twist the arms of those governments to raise taxes, to cut social services and to increase the public services so they can collect their money. All, absolutely all the Latin American countries have been spoiled for these modern pirates. Mainly Mexico. This is the main reason why hispanic people decide to immigrate to the United States instead starving in a country with low salaries, without future, without chance of study, with huge deficiency in public services. If you ignore the huge damage that those Banks have done to Latin American economies, I invite to make a reserch about it. It will be an unpleasant surprise for you.....of course, if you're unbiased and you're not racist

    May 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Valeriy

    More rich celebrities are using their status to "protest," "support," or just make full of themselves. Because they are good of shooting hoops, doesn't mean anyone should be forced to know their political opinions. And for the NBA officials to express their opinion on the law – that's just outrages. The law supporters should boycott the game, this would give the Sun a doze of reality.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joseph

    I find it quite interesting that this country every year advertises the celebration of Cinco de Mayo, which has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico. I guess as long as we can party and drink, then everything is okay and we at that point are no longer concerned with nationalities, skin color, religion, etc, etc,…

    May 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rick

    ¡Viva Los Suns!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
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