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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    Im going to go Invade Europe and im going to push all of them back into the smalllest territory possiible.....then I will set up my own laws that makes it Equal for all my people of my race.......then I will allow Factories to hire illegal Europeans to get rich and I will make it harder for them to become citizens.....................

    Does anyone see the big picture here?

    Slowly the Europeans came back and purchased the land they wrongfully lost.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Angela

    Illegal is ILLEGAL no matter where you're from. Why is that so hard for people to understand? It wasn't a problem when Ellis Island opened so why is it a problem now?????

    May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mich

    Our immigration policy should not be framed in the context of what is good for Mexicans or Mexico. Immigration policy is for ALL immigrants, I don't get this nonsense that Mexicans have a special treatment where immigrants from other countries who are waiting YEARS to get a visa do not get.

    And all this Johny come late fear for profiling is lame. Many of the cops are hispanic, and even if not, it's offensive this assertion that all cops are bigots and out to get hispanics, just a really really weak argument.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. janek


    Actually if you research Native American Indian culture at the time they had their own laws and rules at the time.

    Where one tribe did not just take over another tribes land without either sitting and discussing it or fighting over it.

    Also plopsdad where did your family originally come from and how did they get here?

    My family legally immigrated from Poland in 1960 after filing all the proper paperwork,
    We have been legal working taxpayers ever since.

    How about you?.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mordrud

    BTW, everyone is racist.
    If you believe that illegals belong here because they are mexican and you happen to also be are a racist. You are looking out for your race. It is a natural human instinct based on xemophobia.
    If you are white and you don't want more mexican's here you are a racist.
    If you are black and you support the mexicans becuase you don't like white are a racist too. Get it straight people...everyone serves their own self interest. Everyone is racist to some degree or another. But we still are a nation of laws and we must enforce the laws or we end up becoming like Mexico and they we will all be fleeing into Canada next.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lumps

    This whole debate is flat out insulting to anyone with usable intelligence. This is NOT aimed at the LEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Get off your high horses. Has anyone ever had to show their ID to buy alcohol?? Is that AGE PROFILING?? My wife is thirty four and she still gets asked for her ID. Should we protest? NO. It's a requirement to preserve the law. Illegal immigration breaks the law. Sorry if your born with brown, black, yellow, or pink skin. If you are legal, just show your ID and be on your way. This whole discussion is nauseating.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Alexisreal: that is terrible logic. As the term is commonly used, Hispanics are Latin, but not all Latins are Hispanics.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cutlass

    Come on basketball fans, have the balls to boycott the game. Let the illegals fill it up and have ICE, INS, DHS, etc at every exit to round them up and escort them to the border.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Edward

    Me and 100+ friends are going to overwhelm the ticket counters and illegally enter the game, all the while chanting, "WE ARE HUMANS, NOT ILLEGALS!" while waving a different team's flag.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Linda

    What, are NBA players illegals? This is ignorance.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Justin

    Support of this is pathetic. You're only bullying the latin community, which is something that heavily influences southwestern culture. I hope none of the supporters of this atrocity have any latin friends, because if you do, maybe you should consider them.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ivan Cash

    May 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Monte Marchant

    Maybe all the fans should crash the game without tickets, order food without paying for it and go take someone's seat that has paid for it. That would show support for the cause.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. celticborn

    "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."
    Posted by: Hector Lopez

    Thank you Hector. You really are on the front lines of this problem, so YOU of all people seem to have a clear perspective.
    States rights. They do still exist. The Federal Government, when it fails to protect it's legal citizens, should step back and let the states implement their rights to make laws that affect their locals. The Federal Government should have NO right to tell states that they cannot protect legal citizens, the property owners, the people who pay the taxes that pay for services, education and upkeep of said state. I am a big believer of states rights. The Federal Government needs to either step up and do it's job of keeping our borders safe and keeping illegal immigrants out...or they need to step back and let the states do the job. Arizona's law may not be will need to be tweeked in the future...but at least THEY DID SOMETHING! Not just saying 'we need to address this'...and then talking it to death and not doing a damn thing for YEARS. Decades even. Let's all get so tied up in being politically correct that NOTHING gets done. Like Congress. Sheeesh.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike Liang

    Hey NBA, This is America! not Spain or Mexico. I came here from China and learn the language so I can understand the words on National TV. Is Spanish the 1st language in America?

    You don't hear the Asian community complain! Because I like the new immagration law, keep the illegals out! They check your paper because your race maybe you should consider telling you something that your Race is a trouble maker. How often you hear Asian legal or illegal have problems with the law?

    I support immigrants only LEGAL ones. I don't want to pay Tax for those illegals and learn spanish so I can understand TV. Listen, do you want all your daily use stuff to printed in Chinese?

    Besides, Spanish language is so easy to learn anyway, next time try Chinese, Speak something that's actually requires some skills... it took me 6 months to speak English, I would say 3 months to learn Spanish. Took me 14 years to learn Chinese.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
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