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

    Do they even know what's the new law about? It's the "illegal immigrants" that the new law is trying to crack down. Sure, "We are proud that 400 players from 36 countries compete in the NBA, ...". I bet that all the players have a legal status.

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

    All you Sun fans that say you will give up your season tickets and not watch Sun games anymore. Grow up, don't throw a tantrum. Just enjoy the sport!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jordan

    As a Spurs fan I can say I am definitely not a fan of the Suns off the court, but this move has given me a newfound respect for their organization. This statement is particularly meaningful given that the matchup involves a team from a city and region with a rich multi-generation Hispanic heritage and I can say that SB 1070 has received considerable scrutiny in South-Central Texas. While I hate the law that was passed, I think it is allowing some in the state, such as Steve Nash and the Suns, to take a courageous stand. I'll feel slightly less disappointed now if the Suns win the series, but only slightly. Go Spurs Go!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Don Jenkins

    I guess it's obvious by their own laws, they know what they are doing is wrong. They want the US to allow them to break laws that they are not willing to allow others to break in Mexico.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MrsCfromLA

    Diego please stop posting! You are here telling people that you are abusing the system and using government benefits and there is nothing they can do about it??? That is why people hate illegals! No on wants to pay because you are hear illegal. What would happen to me if I went to Mexico illegally???? I wouldn't even have the right to make a phone call, let alone get any government assistance to live there. Please let use common sense people when making post!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Diego

    JAF and LUMPS both cited checking ID's at bars to verify age as being comparable to the new AZ law. Conratulations, you two. There are a lot of dumb comments in this thread, but you have risen above it all. You two are the dumbest. And that is saying something in this crowd. If you were being specious, ha ha. If you really don't understand why your argument is stupid, you may want to consider being sterilized. The gene pool cannot afford many more of you.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. socalgal

    To all athletes and their organizations, if you have a problem with this legislation, please asked to be released from your contracts. Give up your money and move somewhere else.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Whoa!

    Wow! Michael Jordan retired? Shows the last time I payed attention to the NBA.....

    May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jordan

    Oops, I meant I'm not a fan of the Suns on the court in terms of playing basketball (given that they and the Spurs are arch-rivals), but I applaud what they are doing off of the court right now.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gurm

    Its not a new law and its just and fair......come on guys.....take it easy....let the law take its coure.....hahaha...!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Monica

    i was going to submit a response to some of the people here speaking on the forum...then i became overwhelmed. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY IGNORANT THINGS FROM SO MANY IGNORANT PEOPLE IN ONE PLACE LMAO is all i can do............

    May 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Diego

    MrsCfrom LA:
    Go make me a sandwich.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. alex

    people people please read the history of this country dont be fool by hate 7 of the states in the new us now about 150 years ago was mexican terretory and it was stolen for pennies but the mexican names of this 7 states still today california, nevada,arizona,texas,colorado,new mexico,oregon wats up with that they took our land but not our roots thats why they are in mexican spanish names and city's please change the names of the state and city's firts and then we will leave. and happy 5 de mayo mexico

    May 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. German Grandma

    I still don't get the protest. If you are an immigant – you have come to this country legally and I am all for you. If you are an ILLEGAL immigrant – go home or go to jail. I am still trying to get family members from Germany and we have been here 20 years.
    By the way, GO SPURS, GO!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
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