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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  1. crabman

    sorry if your in the U S english will do leave the politics at the door either that or the fans should boycott the game --the programs in spanish too

    May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff

    @Mich – Thank you for you comments. Most people do not realize that we have literally MILLIONS of people from countries other than Mexico that would love nothing more than to have their chance to live the American dream. However, because they do not live in close proximity to the US border, their only choice is to obtain their US entry lawfully, via visas issues at US embassies and consulates. If we bordered with India, China, Pakistan, etc – we'd have this same debate over citizens of that country. It's not about race – it's about limiting the number of immigrants that enter the US each year. We simply do not have infrastructure to support everyone in the world that wants to come to the US.

    Many of the Latinos who are protesting this law do not care about non-Latinos that want to come to the US. They only care about themselves and result to name-calling and hate-mongering to try to get what they want. A lot of Latinos oppose this law simply because they have a personal interest in it – either they are illegal or they have family members/friends that are illegal. Still, there are MANY Latinos who legally immigrated to the US and support this law. They know and understand how the legal immigration process works and know it's not fair to people all over the world who wish to come to the US legally, but must wait their turn and pay all the fess associated with immigration. Those people are just as "human" and just as "hard-working" as the Latino illegal immigrant but, oftentimes they are much more educated. In many countries the job market is so dire that a college-education is required just to work a fast-food job.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CR

    If illegal immigrants are criminals that must be deported immediately even if they have relatives who are legal residents or US citizens, what would you call the illegal immigrants that were given ammesty back in the 80s, some who are US citizens along with several other American family members?

    Are these American families also criminals? Are they a menace to our communities? I agree something needs to be done to resolve illegal immigration and the issues surrounding people who are here illegally, but the solution is not to follow techniques that involve racial profiling. Racial profiling are techniques that should be done on "criminal" cases and not illegal immigration which is at the federal level?

    If you ask my personal opinion about the millions of illegal immigrants in this country and what would be a solution, I would say the US should develop a point system to help reform illegal immigration.

    Why a point system? Because I do not believe, Illegal aliens who are not contributing to our communities, take advantages of many services, and do not even attempt to speak English should be rewarded. In my solution, I think a point system that takes into account the following factors would be effective:

    * English language
    * Employment
    * Tax contribution (if any are paying taxes)
    * Investments (bank accounts etc)
    * education & certifications
    * volunteer work
    * length of time in the US
    * Relatives (Any US citizens or legal residents)
    * Entry (did they enter illegal or using a Visa)
    * Criminal background
    * age
    * medical conditions

    The above factors will help determine a particular score. Based on the score, the applicants (illegal immigrants in the US) will have to pay fines and meet some specific guidelines or call them requirements. For example: learning to speak english, find employment, etc...

    Some applicants won't qualify perhaps due to criminal record, language, lack of education, and just not enugh time living illegally in the US (for example 6 months). These people will be deported back. Others will quality for legal path to "RESIDENCY". This means, they can stay here, but must follow some requirements to have the ability to renew a Visa or apply for permament residency.

    My solution results in illegal immigrants who are not hiding anymore and are paying taxes, learning our language, educating themselves and making a difference to improve their standard of living, but more important improve our communities. Some of these people won't get a permanent residency and will have to renew Visas every so many years and meet some particular criteria. Others will get a Visa for a number of years to resolve their issues and go back to their countries, and some will be deported.

    Not a single illegal immigrant will EVER be a US citizen because I do not think that's fair. The most they can ever be will be legal US residents.

    What you think?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Edward

    From personal experience, a hispanic family moved into my quiet, clean neighborhood. They now park their rusted out white van/storage locker on the street. The young woman of the family has been endlessly pregnant, she pops out one and starts immediately on another. They've decided to use the small driveway behind their building (the one multi-unit building on my block) and adjacent to my house to fix up junked out old cars. Nothing like the smell of 1990 Caprice exhaust coming through my windows on a nice spring day!

    Seriously, my experience with these people has shown me nothing but a total lack of respect for the established environment they move in to.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MrsCfromLA

    Get a life US Citizen! You are so lame and naive to think this law isn't racial profiling! Anyone who doesn't think this law is racial profiling isn't living in America! The only way this law will be fair is if you make it mandatory for EVERYONE in this country to obtain a passport and carry around their papers 24/7. I would love to see police officers in Beverly Hills and Thousand Oaks harrassing caucasian people for their papers, IT WOULDN"T HAPPEN, they would stop it in a heart beat, but because it is not going to affect anyone who has blond hair and blue eyes all they see it as "Oh let's get rid of the illegals"! When they start harrassing little white women shopping on Rodeo Dr. asking for their papers, I will be all for this new AZ law! But until then I'm not. Like I posted eariler, I am ALL for arresting and deporting people who are here in this country ILLEGALLY, but who determines what an ILLEGAL looks like? If you see them cross the boarder fine, pick them up, but don't profile, other US Citizens in the process! Go after what is really wrong with the system! Don't allow employers get away with hiring ILLEGALS! And stop letting ILLEGALS abuse the welfare and healthcare system! That's how you fix the problem! If you chop a tree at the root, the tree dies! ...............Sherriff Joe in AZ is nothing but another "Good Ole Boy" with a badge! I'm from the South and I have seen that first hand!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eduardo

    rselby06 – boycott mexico LOL!!! When I go to cancun at least 90% of the people in the hotel is white americans, when I go to a mexican restaurant in dallas 90% is white americans, in dallas up-town rich homes(100% own by white americans) the lawn care workers are all mexicans...no need for mexicans to go up north because theres no jobs up there for them.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zach

    The issue with this bill is not the ideas behind it, but the broad powers it gives the police and other officials in Arizona. How can someone possibly know just by looking whether someone is an illegal immigrant or a legal one? So then they ask for the papers, but if they asked for everyone to show their ID or proof that they are legal, what happens to the other duties of the police? Seeing as how that would be unrealistic, they will only ask for proof from those they think are more likely to be illegal which in Arizona would be people who speak Spanish or look Mexican. And that is the real issue, racial profiling. Illegal immigration is a problem and it should be dealt with, but not by requiring proof of being legal because as long as people are willing to hire illegals, illegals will find a way to come to the jobs. If someone wants something bad enough they will do what it takes to make it happen, whether there is an electric fence or a ridiculous law trying to stop them.

    On a related note, why is no one concerned about the power this is giving government in Arizona. Do we really want arrests without a warrant, for any reason? And do we want the government to be having meetings outside of open meetings laws? And what exactly would be the "precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine" that would make it a class 2 felony? How many chemicals would it take?

    The owner of the Suns is honoring the culture of Arizona and Phoenix by changing the name on Cinco de Mayo, and drawing attention to an issue that will impact many people, and for that I think it is a commendable move. Yes there may be profit motives involved, but honestly tell me when you do something that doesn't benefit you in any way. The owner and athletes are people too and should be allowed to voice their opinion, some of you act like sports should take place in a bubble.

    Oh and by the way patriotism is often defined for political use, and has been the driving force behind many horrible things like the Holocaust and other aspects of genocide.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hoaxusa

    READ the bill morons

    May 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    For those who support the law, worried about their safety with Illegal immigrants. The Times Square scare this past week was caused by a US Citizen. Maybe we should be more careful who gets to be legal. It was probably an illegal immigrant who saw the car and called police. It's not anti-Latino but if you had to ask a white person or a Latino if they were legal who would you be morel likely to ask? Who would be more likely to be suspected by cops?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hoaxusa

    Oh, sorry, not a bill. IT'S the LAW now!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jana Smith

    Since a large percentage of the NBA players are Black, will the team honor Juneteenth as well? I wonder....

    May 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeri

    OKOKOK... Why are we looking at this as being against latinos? We all appreciate Latinos coming over here and working their humps off, BUT get something to show you are here. Permit, state ID, Drivers lic something. We live in a different era now, we have gangs, drug lords, terrorist that use our borders as free entry points. We who are born and raised in America have to have proof of citizenship. Ok so if you don't want to pay taxes.... or become a citizen or dual citizen and just be here work send tax free money back to your country then speak the truth and say that. Boycott the the door steps of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration office to get more employees to process your paperwork faster.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. socalgal

    First of all, take just about any sport and put its athlete in front of a rolling camera and it is pitifully noticeable that most can't construct a proper sentence. What a fabulous comentary on overpaid, undereducated supposed entertainers. Why would I even listen to the drivel that drools from their tonges? Secondly, to think that they know and understand the concepts and values that the law addresses, well that's just preposterous. Thirdly, they have selectively chosen to support illegal activity and therefore should be boycotted themselves – I suspect next they'll support bank robbers just because they harmed no one while committing their crime and didn't get caught for years, so let's just pretend they're fine upstanding contributors to society and give them an A-OK to stay free in our midst? Lastly, the fact that most illegals are Mexican is a reality constructed by the Mexicans themselves. Illegal it would still be if they were purple or from Neptune or Sicily. The fact is, only lowlifes crawl over the border illegally and we already have enough of our own. They made the bed, now lay in it and if the bed needs to be burned to thwart the stench and bugs or be kicked to the curb, so be it. ARIZONA, PLEASE EXPORT YOUR COMMON SENSE TO CALIFORNIA.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. plopsdad

    Eduardo

    Incorrect, except in this part of the woods its illegal asins jumping the river that take jobs

    May 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike Liang

    @mrsfromLA

    ha, so funny watching the hispanic getting all mad about this. Maybe you need be more like Aisans, work hard and stay out of touble... then US won't pick on you anymore. hahaha, of course they won't bother the rich and white, because they stay out of the breaking stuff and steal stuff... well at least not illegally...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
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