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. Hector Lopez

    I live near the border and have illegal immigrants crossing my backyard, sleeping on my front porch, coming up to the house and begging for food and water at all times of the day and night, leaving their trash all over on my land and tearing down my fences. Just to the west of my house is a well worn trail they use. Its a never ending flood of illegals. The federal government has completely abandoned the border states and the states have no recourse but to take steps to curtail the flow of criminals entering their states. No one talks about the rancher that was murdered by illegal immigrants a few weeks ago or the numerous border patrol agents that have given their lives in in the line of duty. Let these protesters live on the border and watch them change their opinion in a hurry.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Faly

    Phoenix Suns have every right to voice their opinion on a subject. If it was the other way around there wouldn't be complaints about them going into politics. Simple as that. GO SUNS!!! =D

    May 5, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. janek

    What a bunch of Ignorant People.

    How do you think that this country was founded

    By a bunch of Illegal Immigrants landing on the East Cost.

    Did the Native American Indians ban then NO.

    We just started to kill them and take their land.

    So now we are banning these people from land that theirs at one time until we took it.

    The people that come here want to work and do jobs that no one else will or wants to do.

    If you do not want them to do these jobs then put all the people that are sucking the welfare system dry to do those jobs.

    I say make the process easier to get a work visa like we did with Canada in the 1960’s and then problem solved.

    Oh no because then there won’t be a need to spend stupid amounts of money for a fence and guards. It is not what the current political system wants

    May 5, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JAck

    It's sad to see politics infiltrating sports. l 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 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ellie

    May 5th, 2010
    11:24 am ET The team-name stunt brings attention to an issue that is important to many Arizonans and many other Americans.
    Maybe if the TeaParty advocates want to attract attention to their cause, they can refer to themselves as "Los Retards," or "Los Retardos," whichever suits their exploitative leaders on the particular day they use the term.

    Posted by: Flex Chokewell

    Are you part of the Tea Party, if not you are just as "Retardado", there is no such word in Spanish as "Retardos or Hale"

    May 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Randy Royal

    I have read the law and it requires probable cause to believe a crime has taken place, not that the individual is illegal. This looks like a state endorsement of the 286G program. As for the Suns, who cares! Polls show 70% of state residents support the law. National polls show most US citizens support the law. Leave politics off the court and play ball, not that I care about basketball.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Big Latino Joe

    All those people who say they support this bill because they need to sucure the border need to rethink that because it does not make the border safer! All it will do is profile and harass all Latinos, including American born citizens. Should we then make all white immaragnts do the same??? The only way to suceesfully secure the border is to increase the presence of the Border Patrol and target the cartels, not all Latino immagrants are members of the cartels and to profile them as so is sear ignorance!!! If Arizonia passes this law, it will just cause more strife in a country that WAS BUILT on , and by IMMAGATION / IMMAGRANTS which WE ALL are for the exception of Native Americans. We all need to realize if this law is passed we are moving in the opposite direction that all the great leaders such as Lincoln, Dr. King, and many others realized long ago that all men are created equal and to pin the bad works of the Cartels on all Latin Immagrants is wrong!!!!!!!! Plain and simple. I support all those who stand by right and the freedom that this county has that makes everyone in the world want to come to experience. Happy Cinco De Mayo my brothers stand tall and strong!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Am I missing something? It seems most people opposed to the Suns' actions believe the Suns are doing this because they support illegal immigration. It seems to me that the true victims of this legislation are the US citizens who will be wrongfully and possibly frequently harrassed by law enforcement to prove they are in their own country legally. This smacks of "show me your papers" Soviet-style policing of citizens. US citizens of Latin descent are US citizens. They are not half citizens. If there was a wave of Canadian illegals, how would white Americans feel if the police kept asking them for their papers? They'd feel pretty darn persecuted, I bet. The Suns get it and are trying to protect basic American rights for US citizens. All you people railing against them fail to see they stand for the same things as you. Ignorant propaganda eaters.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. plopsdad

    janek

    How ignorant, please post a link to the laws in effect at that time. You cant break what doesnt exist

    May 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mr. Tea

    If you think that this law is wrong, I invite you to feed, clothe, educate and provide health care in your home without compensation or reimbursement for an illegal immigrant family.

    Any takers?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lauren p

    everyone keeps saying give the illegal immigrants a chance to be legal and pay taxes, and for the government to take different actions to control immigration; but this problem has been going on for awhile. its unfortunate drastic measure had to be taken in order to get things straight. as for the sun changing they're jersey; i mean come on, lets just watch some basketball! since when does sports and politics come together? and leandro barbosa, he's been on the sun for like at least 4 years and now they are 'celebrating' their latin players; great timing with the immigration law out and now. everyone's so busy criticizing the bill and we haven't even gotten a chance to really see result from it. it takes time. we shouldn"t have to pay for the rights of illegal immigrants.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sheri

    If the Suns had only shown their support by routing the money for printing those Jerseys to sponsor the immigration of a few deserving illegal people, I'd have been impressed.
    The Fed. Govt should be ashamed that a state is trying to step up where it is failing to pen the law..Immigrants are welcome in this land of dreams, Just do it legally!
    Set up programs to help the illegals work and pay taxes..Dont expect law abiding citizens to shoulder all thier taxes too to pay for this country's fragile and overused infrastructure.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 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 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guest75

    Other countries do not allow employers to completely exclude an entire pool of applicants because they want to pacify people who sneak into their country ILLEGALLY, and then refuse to learn the language. I have neighbors who have been living here for 30+ years and still can't speak anymore English than enough to say Hello. I've seen kids that were born in this country, and enter school not knowing how to speak English. But, I am supposed to go out of my way to learn Spanish so that I can speak to these people in my job, when they could care less about learning English? I don't see all of you people that support these law breakers, breaking down the doors of elected officials offices, demanding that our educational system begin offering Spanish classes to native English speaking kids, as a part of the curriculum. If you want these people here so bad, these people who have a blatant disrepect for our laws, our culture, and they people they seek employment from, and steal services from, then why aren't you advocating as hard for leveling the playing field? To me, your comments are worthless, unless you're advocating for both. If not, then shut the expletive up! You're an expletive fool, and you should be deported as well, on principal!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Flex Chokewell

    The AZ law is misguided because it cannot be enforced without violating federal law. A law that requires law enforcement officials to make inquiries into the citizenship status of someone who is not already under arrest is not sustainable. The AZ governor and the proponents of the bill knew this and passed the measure anyway. Everyone who supports the new "law" is getting sucker-punked by their conservative leadership again. It's actually rather embarassing for you and does nothing to advance immigration law reforms. In summary, Barry, Barrie, US Citizen, et al, are all LOSERS. This is just one example of how you are losers.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
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