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. Matt

    It's another ridiculous attempt at hypocrisy...If most liberals believe that the Republican Party is made up by a bunch of rich, old, racist white guys, then who do you think owns the team. I guarantee the players who make 10 million dollars a year could care less about the struggle of either side of the issue...They're going to go back to there mansions driving there Bentley's and close the door and turn on sport center...And I guarantee the majority of those are Registered Republicans...It's absolutely ridiculous the see this week attempt at shaming the majority of AZ residents who believe in this law...Oh yeah, Phoenix is the number on kidnap capital of the US...why don't they stand up for there hometown and do something about that...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pancho Puke-o

    well the real immigrants came from england to still this land lets not be fools and they still here and they did american indians and mexican too. now this people of our time think that they are legal please ur roots if u are white came from england thats why you speak inglish and not indian like did native american indian.

    Well, that's not a retarded post in any way!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wrlord01

    For those of you who live in PHX, try the top 10 Mexican restarants. Go ahead! Have somwrhing good to eat...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yotoque

    que importa, como quiera ay que seguir luchando para mejorar en esta vida donde quiera que estes. mejor morir en la lucha que sentado esperando el fin.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |


    May 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alan

    Ok, for all of you that support the law. Tell me, how many "illegals" do you in the streets asking for money just go get drunk? Or how many do you see that they just sit at home being lazy waiting for a check to arrive in the mail? Can you answer that? Now tell me how many "legals" do those things?
    If all of them were to leave then the country would fall appart. who would pick the crops? the lazy people under the freeways? yea right. You need a reallity check and need to open your eyes to how much we contribute to this country. Oh one more thing, I always wonder why ICE doesn't raid the crop fields?
    I think everyone knows the answer to that.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RZD

    Danae – how are you going to show you're a legal citizen when you're pulled over? There have already been cases where the dops have said a DL is not enough.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    What part of " Illegal " isn't understood ? Can I go to any other country in the world and just take up residency and then state that I should be given citizenship because I am there ? This whole thing about immigration is REDICULOUS >>> If you don't go through the process of legal citizenship ... ADIOS, Good bye, Ciao, Hasta Manana en Mexico !

    May 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. alexthediot

    Have you been delusional long or is this a new thing? I suggest you get back to school and try and learn a few things, like grammar.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Monica

    to Dorothy Lochert,

    You are such a hypocrite. Its SO atrocious when Steve Nash displays his opposition to the bill, but if he was FOR it, its okay for sports and politics to mix?

    You can't have it both ways

    May 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pancho Puke-o

    this is still mexican land and they can kick us out but our roots will never leave this country thats why the government is scare


    So there were a lot of Mexicans here during the ice age? You're an idiot.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jason

    I am a Phoenix resident and heard about this last night on the news. I think all Phoenix residents should boycott this game and pray for a loss. If the Phoenix Suns organization wants to support illegal immigration, they can leave town. I hope this costs them HUGE!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PeoriaAZresident

    I'm no fan of Russell Pierce or the extreme-right AZ Republicans: however, I support SB1070 because illegal immigration (yes, primarily from and via Mexico) is out of control–bad move on the Suns part. One can't help wondering if they are just acknowledging the fact that more and more of the AZ population is of Mexican heritage.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. US Citizen

    Make it fair. Have every single peron carry an ID that indicates that he/she is a US citizen. Also include fingerprints to make it easier to find all criminals (regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation). Tourists would have to carry their passports. Problem solved!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wrlord01


    May 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
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