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. Don Jenkins

    And let's not forget about Mexico's immigration laws:

    Again, quoting Waller from the referenced link: "Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

    • In Mexico legally;

    • Have the means to sustain themselves economically;

    • Not destined to be burdens on society;

    • Of economic and social benefit to society;

    • Of good character and have no criminal records; and

    • Contributors to the general well being of the nation.

    "The law also ensures that:

    • Authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;

    • Foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;

    • Foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;

    • Foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;

    • Foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;

    • Those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison."

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

    SAMMY great idea !!!!!

    Why don't LOS IDIOTS let whoever wants to sneak into the home games, just sneak in.
    Then when one of the sneakinners falls and sues the team for 20 mill and wins, they should make Steve Nash pay the 20 mill. Boy would he be closing the doors and checking tickets then!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eye4anEye


    GO HERE:

    Since you clearly support illegal immigrants staying here in America; Will it be okay if I come to one of your games and sneak in illegally, without paying my dues, grab a few free drinks, a free hotdog, fall down on a slippery bathroom floor and then expect you to give me free healthcare to fix my injuries? That's exactly what the illegal immigrants are doing in America, so you should be okay with me doing that at one of your games – eye for an eye right? You people should actually THINK before your next political move – Which, by the way, is the last thing sports teams should be involved in.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hbhobby

    This is hilarious. If the Suns, excuse me Los Suns owner wanted to show his support, why doesn't he allow all the illegals free entrance to the game? Put your money where your mouth is.

    Call me crazy but I always thought Illegal meant ILLEGAL ! !

    Funny how only the Illegal Mexicans are complaining. Where are the protests for the Illegal Europeans, Indians, Pakistans or Canadians?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gurm

    People need to be aware that the law is not against immigrants but illegal immigrants. Stupid people.....when would they understand? Who wants to pay you from their tax money?......answer is nobody.....again nobody.

    I am sure these NBA people don't give a damn about these laws,,,,,,,,they are just faking it.....and doing it nicely to receive applauds from other people....!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    This team owner is protesting because if he loses his illegal workers (who washes all those towels and cleans the locker room?) he will have to pay an actual citizen a legal wage to do it.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Barry

    NBA = THUGS, what would they be doing if they could not PUT A BALL IN A HOLE. Man they sure are smart, I better listen to their perspective!!! LOL

    maybe these NBA players and OWNERS can pay my taxes so the illegals can get free health care, medicare, social security. Wake up America....boycott these owners, hit them where it hurts.....their pockets


    May 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rocky

    And if your and illegal immigrant you even get two free tickets to tonights game. Just show up at the Will-Call window two hours before the game. If you cannot produce a drivers license or green card, you're in!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ethan

    I hope the same people complaining about the Suns using the game to progress an agenda complained about things like the Tim Tebow, Antiabortion, Superbowl commercial. Damn those football players for wearing those pink jerseys too. That and the BS breast cancer/liberal agenda. Where are the skin cancer, prostate cancer, etc.. tributes? C'mon guys. The Players have just as much of a right in voicing their opinion. I bet if they were proponents of the bill, and did something to support it, you would be applauding them. It is amazing to see how many people don't understand that this nation was founded on immigration that was essentially illegal, and that throughout our history, immigrants, both legal and illegal, have be the foundation for our economy. What if Mexico was known as the Land of Opportunity and the US was a poor, underdeveloped country. How many of you would actually be willing to break the laws of a foreign land in order support your family? Actually think about. Put yourself in the other's shoes. Stop being ethnocentric, and start being empathetic. Maybe you'd understand then.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    @Guest75 – good, well-thought post

    @Flex Chokewell – "The AZ law is misguided because it cannot be enforced without violating federal law." Wrong, the AZ law IS ENFORCING FEDERAL LAW. As usual, opponents of the new law can't find anything substantial to support their position so they result to name-calling.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ethan

    Also, people, it's SOLS not SOLES, but thanks for trying to sound intelligent.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert Adame

    Good for the Suns I support them 100% lets show this racist pople that we don't support law that promote profiling and hate, this Illigal workers are here WORKING looking for a better life and opportunitys, lets focus on the real illigals killers, robbers, gangmemebers of all colors. Don't use this people as an excuse to express your hate.


    May 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Al

    Everyone keeps stressing the fact that these people are ILLEGAL. But what choice do they have?? They do not have LEGAL avenues to enter this country. Someone said Steve Nash has a work permit. And while that's all well and good, most Mexicans cannot get a work permit and they cant' become citizens even if they tried. We have made all immigration from Mexico illegal and now persecute them for wanting to better themselves. They don't pay taxes because they can't. This is all a political ploy to appease tea partiers by the same people who hire and exploit illegals in the first place. America thrives on a cheap labor force, and that's a fact. It's in nobody's best interest to lose that. Not the Mexicans, not the consumers (legal or illegal) and definitely not the businesses. Yeah some of them commit crimes . . .but so do whites, blacks, asians, italians, jamaicans, whatever, you can't generalize a people because of the actions of a few. This country was built on the backs of slaves and being supported on the backs of the poor, don't forget that.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeremy

    Los Idiots more like it. Whats wrong with wanting to keep your country free of criminals?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Maurice A. Charles

    Whomever can not understand why this is a fair action needs to learn how to read a book. I suggest Spanish, but the ignorance in some of this commentary is overwhelming.

    The better part of the western United States, including Texas, Arizona, and California were essentially founded on Chicano descent.

    As a West Indian I am hurt from the profiling.

    As an American I am embarrassed by the discrimination of our citizens.

    There was also a time when this country tried to keep blacks off the court; Anyone who debates The Suns sticking up for fans of all races needs to get over their inferiority complex.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
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