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. Megan

    For all of you who are complaining about the name not being in Spanish, read the comments above. As stated, "Suns" is a proper noun, therefore it is not translated. I happened to be in a Spanish-speaking country a few years ago, and during the Super Bowl, the locals still referred to the teams as "Los Bears" and "Los Colts." If your biggest concern is about the "proper" terminology, that's sad. There is a much larger issue at hand. Though I don't think that politics and sports should mix, at least the players are using their status to try to do some good.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. Christian M

    Every now and then Charles Barkley say it like it is.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mr. Tea

    I agree Tesch. I would respect any Phoenix player that sat out tonight's game (quietly, behind the bench, dressed per NBA standards, not causing a scene with signs or even giving interviews) and refused to be used in this manner.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. lkj

    Do a little research and read the law. Then after you read the actual bill, talk about certain parts that are really bad. I think you'll be hard to find parts that don't make sense. Don't take peoples opinion from either side, read the actual law.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. SaintFaria

    "The Suns also have a Latin-born player, guard Leandro Barbosa of Brazil. Hispanics compose about 15 percent of the NBA’s market, according to the league."

    He was born in a latin country, but Brazilians aren't hispanic and the US census doesn't consider them hispanic. And Barbosa is racially black. So linking him to this story is a just a big fail because he isn't more realated to it than any other player.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    I will never watch any game involving the Suns again. The NBA is on thin ice here as is the MLB if they decide to take any stance. When the fans stop going to the games and the money dries up a tad for these mega-salaried turds maybe they will understand the feelings of the people in the middle class a little more.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |

    Nothing wrong at all with a strong law that would mean the capture and deportation of illegals (cartels, criminals, breeders, etc.). If you are here illegally, then go home. Boycott all you want, you are only making people who may have been sympathetic to the illegals to feel anger and go AGAINST them. The illegals cost the taxpayers money. I will not work for prenatal care for breeders and their kids. We need to be tough. Do you all think you can take advantage of the US Govt and get all you want? We need an electrical fence with military guarding our borders at all times...Look at the Dear Leader of North Korea and how he protects his borders!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. patti





    May 5, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. El Texas

    So Joe Arpio is holding a "Farewell Party for the 5 de Mayo" He's asking all the Illegals to show up and there will be free transportation on their way back... I don't know what he meant by that... lol...
    I'm from Dallas and i don't like the Spurs soooo GOOOO "LOS SUNS" kick the hell out of the Spurs and don't forget to ask for their papers!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. Silly Reporter

    I thought the term "Hispanic" referred to Spanish speakers; Brazilians speak Portuguese.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mr. Tea

    Ms Kitty, try looking up the definition of racism, then get back to us. I don't see anyone saying any race is inferior to another. I do see a lot of people disgusted that a rich and powerful person with a lot of influence and no comprehension of the issues is grandstanding for lawbreakers, regardless of country of origin. It is the liberal left that is making this into a race issue.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. pattyod

    Nice Jerseys. Sir Chuck's comments are every bit as irrelevent as the NBA these days.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. Patriot

    Don't mind them honoring the Latino community but since they are speaking out supporting illegal immigration, Boycott the Suns! Go Spurs! Lets see if Sarver can fill the arena with illegals! I mean he doesn't support citizens rights to enforce our laws so I will keep my disposable income for something other than suns tickets & merchandise.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. Al Beachy

    Charles Barkley's intelligence & common sense goes hand in hand with his golf swing.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Why are some of you suprised by Steve Nash on this issue? He is a very anti-war leftist.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
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