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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  1. Jack W

    Wow, this is great! Since "Los Suns" are showing us what they support, I guess that means I can just sneak in to the arena for the game, eat some hot dogs and drink some beer that fans who bought tickets paid for and not worry about being escorted out or asked by anyone with "Los Suns" to see my ticket (aka my "papers"). After all, I'm just looking for a better life...

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

    So, I'm here and I am illegal. Every breath I take is illegal. And what are any of you going to do about it? Nothing. AZ's government cannot do anything about it, so they pass stupid laws that will either be repealed or struck down in court. The states cannot do anything, and they know it. So they pass goofy laws that make it seem like they are doing something. I love living here, and I enjoy the benefits of working and the government services, but the people here are disgusting. So selfish and opinionated. Only low life losers have a problem with illegal immigration. Middle class educated people have nothing to fear from illegal immigrants.

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

    let's just send all the cathollic, cub scout leaders, and all other white middle class rapists and child molestors out of the country while we're at it then. using the trust of a person to your own gain in that manner is far more of a concern than someone trying to better thier life. i do agree if someone does "sneak" across the border and endangers someone's life or does actually commit a serious crime, by all means, send them back. but if they mind thier own business, and are of no threat......there are more serious things to worry about.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wrlord01

    @Mike Liang- if Spanish is so easy then why don`t you speak it? Here is the first lesson. Say PENDEJO! THERE, how long did it take to learn that?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 1ProudLatina you can all understand where we're coming from, I'll explain this in terms you can relate to: Joe Legal vs. Jose Legal. For arguments sake, although we know it's not true, let say they both work as field workers and are coming home from work.

    Let's say both Joe Legal and Jose Legal forgot their wallet at home and are stopped by a police officer for a broken tail light.

    Joe Legal gets a warning/ticket and a slap on the hand, probably on his way within 15 minutes.

    Jose Legal gets scrutinized, double checked to see if he's actually legal in this country...might even get arrested.

    Tell me, is this fair??? Should an American's rights, because of his ethnicity, be infringed so that this law can be enforced? NO! defense of illegal immigrants.

    Let's say Joe "Scoundrel" Legal decides he likes this girl who he knows is here illegally and starts dating her. Joe "Scoundrel" wants more from her, but she he forces himself on her, knowing full well she won't report him for fear of being deported.

    Let's say Joe "Scoundrel" Legal, an employer, knows he can now keep his existing illegal employees and exploit them even more. So he makes them work even more hours and cuts their wages down even more...all with the excuse that if they don't like it he can threaten them with deportation.

    Let's say Jose Illegal's son gets sick. He has a very bad cough, maybe pneumonia. Jose Illegal will avoid taking son to Doctor and will try to self medicate him in order to avoid deportation, placing child's life at risk.

    Let's say Joe "Scondrel" Legal moves in with Josefina Illegal and are leaving together. Joe Legal gets drunk one night and starts beating on Josefina. Joe knows she won't call the police, because if she does, she'll be deported.

    The law is wrong every which way you look at it. Best route to control illegal immigration is to fine or jail employers for repeat offenses. If no jobs, then they'll just be forced to go home.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. here legally

    I am very proud of this country. family has spilled blood on Iraqi soil to protect its freedom...this past law saddens me because it infringes on my civil liberty of free travel. My brothers and I fought to preserve these freedoms. I'm glad that our president spoke out against this law and I applaud "Los Suns" for the support. I'm here legally, I pay taxes, I am Mexican and an American and don't want to be discriminated. I am now a Suns fan.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jennifer

    The NBA and the players have a right to express their displeasure with a law that promotes racial profiling, just like those of you who support the law have the right to express your opinions. Why do you feel the need to denigrate those whose have different opinions than yours? And how did so many of you become so racist and hateful? Why do you blame crime, economic problems etc. on illegal aliens? Any of you who toke up, snort a line now and then or buy illegal pharmaceuticals are promoting the illegal drug trade which makes you as much to blame as the people smuggling it across the borders. Most people, illegal aliens included, are just trying to make a living. They wouldn't be in the US if people weren't hiring them. (Again, we Americans are the guilty parties here.) The criminals among them wouldn't be smuggling drug if there wasn't a market for them here. Think about the role YOU play in this whole thing.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Diego

    Mike Liang:
    You are a huge disappointment to your parents.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. crabman

    ra ra i knew a ra ra that use to live in mass.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mazz

    Sports and Politics don't mix. The Suns should be ashamed to even get involved.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kelly Hanak

    It is freedom of speech and a platform. If this is how The Suns feel so be it, this is the the same state that voted in Martin Luther King Day just to get the Super Bowl! Politics, Religion, Education, and now Sports, these are the voodoos in mixing. It happpens always will happen, for example the Olympics in China.
    I am a Native to Arizona, I agree illegal immigration should be enforced! To what extent, allowing the police to pull over, whoever, whenever, just because is crap. I know way to many cops, and I know some will absolutely abuse this! As for Barkley saying it offends him because he is African American is offensive in its self! You are an American, You are here Legally! I Love the Suns, Hate the Spurs, can stand the Refs. I choose to watch, so You do not have TOO!

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

    Everyday I read a new article about the Arizona law and then take a moment to read all the comments posted. It saddens me to see of the racist remarks. I thought the days of racism were behind us, but apparently not. While I agree that something needs to be done about Illegal immigration I don't think the AZ law is the correct way of going about it. We are a country of immigrants and there is no need to be so racist while commenting on your opinion.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Edward

    MrsCfromLA/post 366: Read the bill. You sound like a massively ignorant idiot.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeri

    So you want protection from profiling, you dont pay taxes, you want to work and take your cash in hand back to your country, (because until you get ligit as an American this is not your country ) Don't get me wrong we would love to have you and you should be here if you want to be but at least take care of your business get something to ligitimize your stay here then demand rights, protection and whatever else you want. How many of you are driving cars in Arizona without a lic and why does anyone think that is ok?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. norm

    I suspect that most of the Suns don't even understand the issues they are "protesting". Suns ownership should try to improve their team and leave politics out of sports.

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