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. Fan de Los Suns

    Muy bien Suns!!!!!!

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

    Happy 5 de Mayo Arizona!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Yup!

    Okay so let's change our Jersey's to act like everyone's against the new law. They are not. Polls show that over half of the NATION is for this law or something similiar. Truth be told it's just ILLEGALS we want to get rid of, don't you want everyone paying into the tax system like you do everyday? Don't you want things to be fair for everyone? This is only further encouraging the idea that ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is is not.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wrlord01

    @MrsCfromLA.... Take a nap please!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AmericanCitizen

    The people who are most worried about showing ID are the people who have something to hide. I would be glad to show my ID if asked – I was born here; my parents are immigrants who came here *legally* and who respect the laws of this country. *The* Suns and the NBA should be ashamed of themselves for bowing down to people who have no respect for the country they expect will support them. This isn't about discrimination, I don't care which country you started out in or what color you are – it's about respect for the laws of the United States. It's about protecting the citizens of this country so that they don't have to worry about being gunned down on their property because no one is watching the border while heavily armed smugglers bring more illegals into the country along with their drugs.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Diego

    IN YOUR FACE is right. Finally, someone with something intelligent to say. Also, the use of all capital letters suggestes a degree of uncommon sophistication. Kudos.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jimmy

    It is time some does the job of rounding up the illegals that come to this country. If they are not illegal then they have nothing to fear now do they just show the proof. But as usual they are illegally in this country and it is time to do something about it. Some folks just need to get over there crying and do the right thing by comming here legally. If they donot like that then stay where you are period. They can have there babies over the border just as good as they can have them here. Like the almighty one in the white house says it is time for a change! it is time to purge the United States of people who come here illeagally to bleed us dry of our resources.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Monica

    *throwing kisses at alex* smart

    May 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RZD

    What people in Arizona who support this law haven't yet grasped is this means EVERYONE will have to carry proof they're legally in the country. The police can't tell you're a US citizen just by looking at you. So you're going to have to be able to prove it. A driver's licence isn't enough.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |


    May 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. plopsdad


    If the Mexican army did run like cowards back to Mexico City, those states might still be yours, but you signed the dotted line, blame your kin

    May 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick In Novato Calif

    I think it's disgusting that the owner has the nerve to show support to the illegals that are bringing our country to a standstill financially. The bill is no different than what our gov't is supposed to be enforcing. This country was built by immigrants that went through the system and adapted to the English language as well. Our melting pot is no longer working with the influx of the illegals which have also brought down our educational system as well. How quickly people forget about that farmer and his dog which they were brutally shot on his own land!!. I 'll tell you this it's about time that Az enacted this state law. The good thing about this law is enforcement agencies will have the power to detained anyone without a valid dr license or state ID card.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    I think the State of Arizona should take the State Income tax received from this game (players salaries, tickets, etc) and earmark it for the enforcement of this new law.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. wrlord01

    @Alex- Well said!!! VIVA LA RAZA!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pancho Puke-o

    MrsCfromLA thinks that the police should just go up to ladies on Rodeo Drive and ask for their papers. Apparently she's too dumb to comprehend that this law only applies to "LAWFUL STOP, DETENTION OR ARREST". Or maybe she no speako inglish goodo.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
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