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. janek

    plopsdad

    Please explain What you are taking about.

    That is a vauge stament

    May 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bettye

    Good for the Suns. Take a stand and beat the Spurs. That will make this Mav's fan happy.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jack

    Here is a solution for all of you folks that just HATE the new AZ law and want illegal aliens to just come as they please. Come tax time, you can willingly donate the portion of your hard earned wages that goes towards supporting illegal aliens, and then you can donate MY portion as well. I'll just keep my money.....thanks.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ted Presnell

    Pay taxes and stay as long as you'd like....

    May 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. plopsdad

    Flex Chokewell

    They would NOT have passed it anyways because they than would have also known it would be thrown out in court

    May 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Will NOT buy any NBA merchandise ever again....who really cares what NBA players think politically....who ever really cared what Charles Barkley thinks???!!!

    I encourage everyone to stop buying NBA merchandise and game tickets. What a joke!!!
    College basketball is twice as big as the NBA anyway......Comissioner...this is NOT how you sell tickets!! VERY BAD CALL-

    May 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Karen

    "What should be done is find a way to make them legal immigrants"

    We have, it is called immigrating legally. Just like you are expected to in any other country. They are many options people can take to immigrate legally, many just chose to believe they are above the law.

    It isn't easy, but so many have done the work and made the sacrifices because they want to be in this country, so why are those that want a free pass supposed to get one?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Proud to Be an American

    It is sad that the illegal immigrant issue has to become practically a civil war. The feelings of hate being volleyed back and forth are not right. I have had many illegal friends who are here to make a better life for themselves. I admired them for their bravery in coming here. At the same time though, how can one feel loyalty to a country when they are openly flaunting it's laws? When you break one law you justify yourself to break others. We need citizens to be loyal to their country. It would be perfectly acceptable to me to have the immigration laws allow for those who cannot afford the expensive fees to apply for citizenship. When you're making 14 dollars a day-or in most cases, less, coming here illegally would be your only option. I don't see there being a racial problem having people show their proof of citizenship. The only ones who i should think would have a problem with it are the illegals. It's not like Arizona passed a law to round up all the Latinos and put them in camps.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    What a joke. The NBA is stupid for letting this happen.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RexJ

    “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.

    Uh, Manu, the previous laws still allow local law enforcement to detain illegal immigrants and turn them over to ICE. Arizona cannot make or rescind laws that give illegal immigrants legal status, and (thankfully) no such law exists at the federal level.

    Perhaps Manu should stick to basketball and swatting at bats.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. plopsdad

    janek

    you said that those who came to this country, the pilgrams were illegal. How can you be illegal if their is no law aginst it? During that time frame, thats the way it was done, you wanted it , you took it. Every nation on this planet did it that way at one time for another.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. raul

    Viva México!!!!!!!! Viva la Raza!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. celticborn

    "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?"
    Posted by: Rick Beigler

    Rick: Maybe because they were showing support for America as a whole? We showed support for our COUNTRY, and rallied against those that came in and MURDERED thousands of people.
    I hardly think that you can compare what happend with 9/11 and the aftermath with what is going on in Arizona...or the Suns decision to make their players wear these jerseys.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. panchitovillajr

    The law does nothing to address the problems at the border. Nothing. It doesn't add more troops or more DEA agents. The law doesn't even provide funds for what it does call for.

    The law makes it ilegal to stop in traffic to pick up a day laborer, but if it;s your first offense and you swear you didn't know he was illegal, they'll let you off. What crock! Same ol, same ol.

    If you're visiting from another state and get stopped, you better have proof you're in the country legally. Passport, birth certificate, etc. Otherwise, they'll take you to jail. Still can't prove your legal status, they'll call the BP after you sit in jail for awhile.

    If you're white and want to know what this llaw ike will feel like, dress up as an Hispanic and try driving thru Buckeye AZ.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mordrud

    can't we all just drink a couple Dos Equis and get along?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
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