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. Ethan

    Maybe they are protesting the immigration laws as a whole. I mean the only thing that makes most of the illegals is the "illegal" immigration in the first places. Contrary to popular belief these illegals actually tend to have good health, work etchic, etc.. The only thing that makes them criminals is the whole coming to america against the law. If the laws were changed to actually make legal immigration possible, I bet the number of illegal immigrants would go down. Also, coming over illegally isn't exactly a cake wake. It is very dangerous. It shows how desperate the immigrants are in getting to America because of the opportunity they have here.
    Also, the opportunities given, are also the problems. If all employers would stop providing work to these "illegal" immigrants, or if a minimum wage/benefits were enforced for all, then maybe the employers wouldn't be so tempted to hire illegals.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CjsMom

    That's right. Lets support people doing something ILLEGAL. I wonder how many of the non-American basketball players are here illegally. Morons.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KT

    I don't get why it's so hard for people to understand that immigrants can enter this country in a legal way. I think the law will actually help to protect immigrants who are taken advantage of and mistreated by the illegal human traffikers (aka coytes).

    Immigrants legal or illegal all have basic human rights.....illegal immigrnats do not have the right to be in this country.....ENOUGH SAID.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. slorgg

    Sports are very overrated. Way too much money goes into watching people run around with a ball. I don't have a clue why a sports team feels they need to make a statement about immigration. Those guys should stick to the game.

    That said I hope the Suns do lose as a statement that they should stick to what they do best which is basketball instead of trying to influence politics.

    Immigration is a proximity problem with mexico combined with a high reproduction rate of the mexican immigrant. It is a very serious problem. Immigration as it stands today is more of a threat to our national security than any Osama Bin Laden.

    Finally beware of LaRazza and something called the Plan of San Diego. There are some mexican nationals here in the US that want war.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Craig Shearer

    Illegal immigration should be a capital offense.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. drc

    Laws? Why enforce the immigration laws on the books? Why enforce the borders while we are at it. Actually, I really don't like paying taxes, I think I'll break that law this year. In fact, I really could use more money, maybe I'll rob a bank, I mean I need the money.

    Wow, it is amazing that the race card is out again....I was not aware ILLEGAL is a race. But again, the usual race card comes out by the minority of people who think we should just not enforce immigration laws. Apparently we should only enforce laws they find appealing or that fit into their liberal views.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jan Brewer for President

    First of all the Phoenix Suns are just as ignorant as the people they are trying to impress, the illegals and other 3rd world cry babys. Their name is spelled incorrectly. If they wanted to honor Spanish Heritage they would have put..Los Sols or Los Soles and not Los Suns. It is a Spanglish word which is similar to the frijoleros that sneak across our borders.Are they going to let 100,000 people sneak in free tonight?

    Bottom line: Phoenix Suns = Los Suns = LOS LOSERS

    May 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Howard Barnes

    I am not in favor of this law. This country was founded by immigrants. My ancestors were immigrants. And I believe we should always be open to
    immigration. But to those who so passionately disparage this legislation,
    I would ask one question: Do you want to extend the same rights to immigrants who work and obey the law to those who commit criminal acts? Doesn't that
    sort of fly in the face of all common sense? So why not get tough on the law-breakers? If someone is over here illegally and convicted of a felony, he/she should be immediately given a one-way trip back home. Doesn't that make more sense?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eduardo

    I'm all about protecting the border but what I dont understand is why push this law if all they(illegal immagrants) want is to work and be a provider for there family but other culters come to this country to blow up federal buildings and blaspheme this country.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. USMC chris

    One thing people should realize is illegal immigrants actually pay more into our system than they take out. It is wrong to say they use our government and don't pay anything back. W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU just did a recent study on this. All of them pay sales tax and surprisingly most pay income tax. Through college I worked in several restaurants and all the cooks and bussers are all illegal yet on a pay roll and paying income tax. Yet none of them will ever receive things like social security or medicare. Most go back to Mexico after working here for several years. If they were such a drain on our economy then the business leaders would support this law yet they are the ones most against this law. They understand the contribution of immigrants.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    This is pathetic. Once again pandering to a minority that (in this case) is breaking the law !!
    When are the squares going to finally have enough and rise up? When will the Anglos and legal Americans of Mexican descent say enough. If the 70% of Arizonans who support this new law boycotted the Suns, we might really see some change. Along those same lines, what if the 50% of us Americans who actually pay taxes just refused to continue to do so? Just
    stopped. The machine would come to a halt and the libs would no longer have the support of the parasites they buy off.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. plopsdad

    janek

    Thats correct they did, but may i also remind you they fought wars with each other over land as well. They didnt ask the other tribe would it be okay if, they just took. ANd if the other tribe was game, the war was on. Also the number of tribes ranged (est) from dozens to hundreds at any time before the major 1/2 dozen took that from the smaller one. My family also immigrated from poland around 1910

    May 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David Portland oregon

    So the Suns back illegal immigration, isn't that great. They probably also back the human smuggleing that goes along with it and the exploitation of the illegal work force.

    What a bunch of ignorant, dangerous people!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. frank c

    LETS KEEP THE BOYCOTT ALIVE, I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE WHEN THEY HAD LAWS IN PLACE ALREADY THE REPUBLICANS START QUARRELS AND ADVERSITY.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chicana

    I dont think anyone should be racial profiled. If they stopped everyone they "suspected" to be illegal aliens it would be nothing but Hispanics they stop. If I go anywhere I have to make sure I have something that says I'm legal or I'll be arrested?? We were here before the United States was The United States of America. I was born and raised in California as was my family and my ancestors and it is wrong to single out an entire race just because of who they are. Again my family has been here (as many others) before it was a part of the states so does it make it ok to harras anyone that may or may not be illegall? That means they can stop me, my son, my uncles my cousins just becuase we are Mexican American. Yeah, we can prove who we are but who wants to live like that? I know I dont! There are certain liberties we should have and grouping all hispanics into one pot like we are all illegal is not the way to do it.
    Its funny how some people can say "go back to wher e you came from" but we were here all along. If they have an issue with illegals then they need to find a better way to deal with the issue than harrassing all Hispanics. Its not right.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
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