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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soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. JohnAZ

    HAHA! Anyone here who thinks that a few stupid rednecks not showing up to the game will affect the NBA in any way is beyond hope. If you dont want the tickets, there are 100,000 fans waiting to take your place. Good job Suns! Both in destroying the Spurs two nights ago and in standing up for Civil Rights. I and all REAL Suns fans support you 100%.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rselby06

    If I hear someone say that we should let the illegals stay because they do the jobs Americans don't do one more time, I will slap them. That is such an insult to me I can't even put it into words. They have stolen jobs from All Amercans. To say that they do the jobs Americans won't do is not only a poor excuse it's a flat out lie! When I went up north do you know that I didn't see one Mexican working at a fast food restaurant, convenient store, gas station! NOT A ONE! All the employees were WHITE! The transit system was packed with middle class white people! I thought that the whites were to snooty to ride the trains. It's all BS and you illegals should be ashamed for cheating the system. I SAY BOYCOTT MEXICO AND WHOEVER BOYCOTTS ARIZONA!!!!

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

    I know mexicans dont want to be called latinos ..But everytime theres an issue with discrination they want to use the latino word in their conversaiton. Iam latino. Most mexicans hate spanish races. When I was in san antonio texas they treated me like i was from a forign country. If you dont belong here get out .Let the people who do get our jobs back Us latinos help build this country so You Illeagel can screw it up

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

    I'm glad these idiots see enforcing the law as racist. There are reasons we have national immigration laws, one of which is protection, and we cannot allow people of any nationality to violate them; it just happens that Mexico is next to us and a lot of people from there find it convenient to come to the U.S. illegally, but someone from Canada found to be here illegally should be prosecuted and sent back, too. I've heard it said that "illegal" is not a race or ethnicity and it's true.

    By the way, why would they not make it "Los Sols"? Do the people they want to honor speak in the half-Spanish-half-English these jerseys are written

    May 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ethan

    @Don Jenkins,
    Okay, but that doesn't mean the Americans wouldn't be trying to sneak past the law enforcers and whatnot to try and make a living.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike Liang

    Haha, this will never end. The illegals especially Mexicans will just keep pumping out kids and in 10 year they will over run the whole southwest. I hope the kids love America more than their parents. Otherwise Mexico will really take back all the land they lost 100s of years ago.

    Feds, you watch. This is from a Chinese legal immagrant. And in 10-15 years the whole southwest will be 50%+ mexicans and you guys will have a fun time to deal with them. And that's when I move back to the more caucasian state for safety and better living. And probably most Asians will do the same, we move towards to richer and better live and obey the law and make money by working hard. Not causing any problems...

    May 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 3rd Gen. Irish Girl

    I resent the use of professional sports as a forum to promote a political agenda. Since you’ve chosen this to advance prejudicial propaganda, I have a question: What’s wrong with legal immigration? As a compromise, everyone could wear a jersey that says “The Suns” in the language of their nation of origin. I’d love to see “The Suns” in Gaelic…..

    May 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Edward

    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.

    FOR REAL? Or maybe it's because the businesses get far more profit when they don't have to pay a LEGAL WAGE? And this isn't about 'immigrants', it's about ILLEGAL immigrants.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Reno

    The protest has nothing to do about illegal immigrants. It has to do with turning the country into a fascist police state such as they had with Nazi Germany when the Gestapo asked anybody for their papers.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scott K

    This is not a political statement!! They do this every year at Cinco De Mayo. This is only a story because CNN wants to pile on this Arizona thing. And this is the playoffs, that place will be packed!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. American Soldier

    Good job Suns!! HOOAH

    May 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kobeight

    I'm happy Temecula, CA High Shool marching band decided to boycott AZ by not sending them over there for some parade. The AZ immigration law is plain wrong! VIVA LOS SUNS!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lumps

    @ Eye4anEye...AWESOME!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CjsMom

    Howard Barnes – being here illegally IS A CRIMINAL ACT. I am sure many are good people, but they still engaged in an ILLEGAL ACT. Good people speed – they get tickets. Good people forget to pay their taxes by April 15 – they get fined. Immigration is not impossible – just have to follow the proper channels.

    I do not think you will find many supporters of this law who are against LEGAL immigration. You are the product of LEGAL immigrants – so am I. Why make the exception?

    May 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tom


    May 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
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