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. Mike

    I support the law. We have ways to be legal in this country and if you choose not to take those channels you are a criminal. If you are a criminal i support a crackdown on you. I came to this country 4 years ago and took the steps to become a citizen and originally came here legally. My question to everyone who has a problem with this law is "Why do YOU support CRIMINALS?"

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

    Laws? We don't need no stinkin laws!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ???????

    all of u ppl talking bad are full of it....Little by little are freedom is taken away..I say good job to all the ppl who are helping the ILLEGAL PEOPLE more power to them

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

    Pretty pathetic attempt at marketing Mr. Sarver. I guess when it comes to money, respect for the law doesn't count.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    Can't we all just get along? Viva La Peace! Comments in news media is just dumb, you should be required to prove your education level. Idiots and free speach don't mix. Go Los Suns! Woot!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patricia King

    After reading the Arizona law, I don't find it much different from the United States law. "Illegal" aliens in this country are bringing down the way of life for all Americans. Come into this Country as a legal immigrant, learn our history, our ways, OUR language, work for a living, pay taxes and pay their way – that sends the message that they actually want to BE an American. By sneaking over the border(s), they are breaking our laws and should be punished – not rewarded! Isn't it amazing that an American boy rushes on to a major league playing field, is tased and arrested for trespassing, but yet every day in this Country, we have thousands of illegals coming across our borders and NOTHING is being done. As for Arizona – I SAY THANK YOU! Thank you for having the courage to stand up for your citizens. As for the Suns NBA team – I am now cheering for the Spurs! AND . . . am planning on visiting Arizona for a vacation.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Don Jenkins

    Ethan,
    Please see post 272. That's what you'd face if the tables were turned.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Flex Chokewell

    JEREMY is right. What IS wrong with wanting to keep our country free of idiots. We will miss you Jeremy.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Martom

    Why is everyone trying to make this something against the Latino community when it is about ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!! It's pretty sad when we have to make a law to enforce a law that is already on the books. Now we have to make it "illegal to be an illegal immigrant"???? This is not about race, or anything else people are going to try and make it about. It is about the illegal immigrant problem we have here in the United States.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PBOT

    isn't it racist to allow one group of people to live in this country illegally but no others?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kurt

    I would be happy to pay extra for non-illegal produce, services, etc. In fact, how 'bout a voluntary stamp saying the employer uses E-Verify?

    Most of us can't afford a gardener or maid, illegal or not. We're not as rich as Steve Nash.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nicole

    'Cinco de Mayo' is a voluntarily observed holiday that commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín and has limited significance nationwide in Mexico. The date is mainly observed in the US as a celebration of Mexican hertiage and pride so what does that have to do with a Brazilian? That's right Mexico is right next to Brazil! DUH! This is STUPID! STUPID! Immigrate legally people! I'm only 2nd generation American born, but guess what my family did it LEGALLY! I'm tired of sports teams playing politics, just play basketball for pete's sake!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rda03c

    Jesus Christ ... I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone! This is AMERICA! We speak English!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. plopsdad

    PBOT

    Its all about location. If we were next to china, were would be over run by Chineese

    May 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wrlord01

    @Tesch- I agree BUT the sad story is that people will still attend the game...

    May 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
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