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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Filed under: Immigration • Sports
soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. Paul Gasol

    Arizona sucks anyway! Who cares.

    Go Lakers!!!!!

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

    USMCX Chris – If you add up the social and educational services that illegals get, the net is a negative even if they do pay taxes. Not to mention,,,,this is totally off topic and in the grand scheme irrelevant. They are ILLEGAL and Arizona has a right to enforce the law, period,

    NB we have 5 million people in AZ and 10% unemployment which is 500,000 people. it is estimated that we have around the same number of illegals. Presto – unemployment and illegal immigration resolved in one fell swoop !!

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

    Al...this country was built on the backs of slaves???? Please! If you will refresh your memory and re-read your history books...Only a small portion of this country allowed slavery and the "Yanks" lost thousands of lives to abolish that practice! I resent that comment! This country was built on the backs of hard working (mostly) European Christians that wanted a better life and did it legally! God bless America! My family never owned a slave, never hired an illegal, has always paid their taxes and doesn't have a problem with being asked for ID to prove that I am a citizen! One thing that they did do? Conquered the previous nations that used to live in this country in order to make it AMERICA! When a country is defeated, the ones that lost either leave or adapt to the conquering country's way of life! deal with it and quit the whining about what "used to be"!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ghostman

    Why don't they play in Mexico if they want to be the Los Suns? This is the UNITED STATES NOT MEXICO!! Illegal means just that illegal.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Meq

    I can’t believe this!! This is ridiculous!! These people are here illegal, and there are Americans who are justifying these people actions. Come on people..There's nothing wrong with a state trying to protect their people.

    Every person in jail should be freed, because whatever crime they committed was for a reason.

    The United States of AMERICA is basically sending out that message to people..ITS OK TO COMMIT A CRIME, but its not. These people are breaking the LAW!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TammyB

    I heard on the news this morning that many companies that are boycotting Arizona don't want their names publicized as they think there may be repercussions by the general consensus that agrees with the rule of law and this new law, which, by the way, was amended to include language that states that the police cannot stop anyone unless it is for legal reason, such as traffic infraction, loitering, etc. Plus the issue is addressed about fines for employers who employ illegals and anyone who transports illegals. So everyone who has said this issue is NOT addressed really should read the entire LAW and not go off everyone's opinion of the subject. It is already the LAW that all illegals, no matter where they are from, have to carry work permits, visa's etc. And if the companies that are boycotting Arizona are so sure that they are in the RIGHT, then why do they NOT want their names published? Are they sitting on the fence just so they won't get boycotted in case this law is found to be just? I think so! The only ones that have done damage is the protestors to this law....broken windows, grafitti, etc. in many of those demonstrations they had last weekend. I still will watch the Suns game, though, because I support my State and my sports teams.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Justin

    I'd like to call out anyone spouting "illegal means illegal" and the like, to confirm your never doing anything illegal...

    May 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RaRa

    EDWARD – Perfect post. So, can I enter a Phoenix Suns game without paying and say that if anyone hints that I'm in the arena illegally they are a racist.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pete

    Everyone of the NBA players from other nations is here in the states legally. Why is it such a big deal. If people are illegal we have the obligation to kick them out.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Junior

    Screw the Suns, screw the Mexicans and screw you if you're too blind to see there is a REAL problem in this country with illegal immagrants. Yes, teh law may be a bit extreme, but I applaud Arizona's effort to at least try to stop the bleeding of wetbacks sneaking in.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tony

    1. Illegal is ILLEGAL.
    2. No one owned this country, not even the native americans.
    3. It's sad, but the majority of illegals are from mexico and below. Blame them and those who hire them for the continual influx.
    4. The law also hits companies, for those who bother to read it.
    5. Illegal is ILLEGAL
    6. As someone stated, why are people opposed to showing their ID... do you not show ID at routine checkpoints, such as those that are done for the 4th of July, Spring break and new years for drinking and driving? Are you going to say that the checkpoints are racists because you don't drink and they are just profiling??? Get real!!!
    7. I'm not making that much money, so i'm going to come to your house and use your goods for my use, with out paying and without asking. Would you not be angered by this if not downright violent? So what's the difference?
    9. You have no rights as an illegal, just the right to due process and a fair trial. All of the other services, such as medical, a job, a house, food... those are not your right to have or take. Those things are earned, through being a born citizen, naturalized, on a VALID work visa... not on the excuse of "my country sucks, but I don't want to wait in line...". Refer to 7 please.
    10. ILLEGAL means you have broken a law in this country. You are a criminal, regardless of your intent to be hear.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert

    Justin: I've broken the law by speeding etc., but I've never snuck in to another country and stolen tens of thousands of dollars of social services and sent the money back to my home country. Theft of services and actual theft are in the net the same. My five year old poses a better argument you troglodyte.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cinci Jim

    As far as I'm cencerned this is just another reason why the NBA doesn't appeal to me. I say that those of us who support LEGAL immigration should start boycotting the boycotters. This includes San Fran and, now, LOS SUNS. Don't go to the game and don't watch THEIR games on TV.

    They are perfectly within their rights to do this but we are also within our rights not to support them. PLAY BALL!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hoaxusa

    I am from Tucson and the Los Suns are no longer my team, Go Spurs! If you are not from AZ and are against our laws then STFU! you bunch of f@gg0t$

    May 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JAF

    So I am in my mid-30s and this past weekend, I was asked to show my ID when I went into 2 different bars. I had to prove, based on my appearance, that it was okay for me to be someplace - is this law really any different than that? It's annoying that I still at this age have to prove my age – but I do it...because it's the law. I'm sorry but I don't see the problem with this law. If you are not here legally, you should get arrested and deported; and if you are here legally, show your ID and get on with your life.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
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