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. Dave

    Sports teams should keep the hell out of politics. I will not renew my season tickets!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. LosSunsFan

    Here is the original article from the Arizona Republic which shows support from more than just 1 Spur.
    http://www.azcentral.com/sports/suns/articles/2010/05/04/20100504phoenix-suns-los-suns-jerseys.html

    May 5, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Raul Gonzalez

    Even though I am a Spurs fan, the Suns ownership and players have made me proud! On behalf of all hispanics in the United States, thank you SUNS!

    Raul Gonzalez

    May 5, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    @vignesh
    It does matter when they're placed on center stage to play a basketball game and instead use it to extend an agenda. There's a time and a place for politics... professional sports is not the proper outlet.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ron M

    Come on...Politics on the court is not the place. This is another reason why not to watch NBA. We already have a fourm for politics. It goes back to "If your not illegal", be proud to show your id. I show my military ID every chance I get. Keep the game on the court not the politics.
    RonM.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. dorothy Lochert

    I am disappointed in Steve Nash and the Suns. Politics and Sports do not mix!
    The Suns should be supporting Arizona!!!! As we support the Suns!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Al Beachy

    If Robert Sarver and Steve Nash are oppopsed to 1070, how about me & 100 of my friends come to the game tonight. Naturally, we will not have any tickets or money. We will expect to be supplied with free food & drinks.
    We would be criminals & illegals but, isn't that what 1070 is all about?

    May 5, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. llama

    Lost Suns, buying into crime hiding behind Civil Rights. It isn't being stopped that upsets all the Mexicans, it's being found out they don't have papers. Don't you notice you never see anything about the 70% who want the law? Its because the media was bought off by large Latino foundations, so fools fall for the hoopla. Hope you are boycotted by the silent majority.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tesch

    Lets make something clear – it is the organization's chocie to wear the Los Suns jersey in rpotest. NOT THE PLAYERS. A player would never come out in public and say they dont want to wear the jerseys in protest – it would be detrimental to the team and their career. Better to stay quiet......once again the NBA is a making the players a billboard for their agenda.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Homer Simpson

    DOH!! If I actually ever watched this stupid sport, then I would boycott the Suns. But since I have never watched them or ever spent a penny on their merchandise, I am at a loss for what to do.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. tom

    NBA should stay out of politics; this will only start to carry over to other teams if they fill
    they have a reason to protest something.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. US Citizen

    This is so stupid, i will not watch any Suns games. Deport Nash and Barkley.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kat

    It is highly unprofessional to push a whole team to take a political stance. If the players want to express their own opinions off the court, they should, but leave it out of the sports game.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. john

    Los Soles, not Los Suns

    May 5, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. ms kitty

    So it would appear that the only people that choose to comment on stories like this are the racists that want to spew their poison on the internet. And to AGuest9...burn.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
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