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. Pancho Puke-o

    This issue has shown me that Mexicans are far more stupid than I could have dreamed.

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

    How about a $500,000 fin,e per infraction, for anyone employing illegal immigrants? How many people would triple check their worker's papers? If no one hires illegals then the whole reason for them to come here is gone. Even better would be to turn around and use this money to create jobs in Mexico and for patrolling the border for people who are transporting drugs or plotting an attack, not just people trying to make a living. Because really that is what it comes down to, they just want to provide for their family. And before you judge, think about what you would do in order to provide the inalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to your children and loved ones.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    When Spanish speaking people talk about the Spurs or the Suns in conversation or on the radio or on TV, they say: "Los Suns son un buen equipo de baloncesto" or Los Spurs...

    Just as I'm sure when you're talking about Real Madrid's soccer team, you don't translate it to "Royal Madrid"

    Language doesn't always unfold the way a text book might suggest.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yotoque

    Pancho Puke-o se la come toda!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bethany

    @ CR- you are so delusional 50% of Americans probably don't meet your point system criteria

    May 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pancho Puke-o

    yotoque – mama mi verga!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. king of new mexico

    I would encourage the fine citizens of Phoenix to not attend the games in Phoenix. This is stupidity taken to the absurd.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. yotoque

    con tu culo

    May 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GirlNextDoor

    Thank you, SUNS! Arizona embarasses us all, and I am ashamed that they are Americans just like me. Hope they will come to their senses. STOP THE HATE!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    Stupid. Just Stupid.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alan

    I think that most of them would just sit at home and cry that they got laid off instead of actually going to look for a job.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tvmc

    WoW! I'm a Spurs fan from San Antonio. Tonight, I'll be a Spurs AND Suns fan!!! Very impressive. Go Suns! If Arizona doesn't want you there, I'm sure there's a place for you somewhere else in this wonderful country. El Paso Suns sounds great. San Jose Suns.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Katie

    I am really tired of hearing about how "it's the LAW." People create laws – you could make a law to say everyone has to wear red on Wednesdays. There are a limitless number of ridiculous laws in this country and this is one of them.

    It also saddens me to see these people referred to as "THEM', "THOSE PEOPLE" – it really shows your ignorance. Educate yourself on the conditions these "horrible criminals" are facing in Mexico, and how lengthy, tedious, and expensive the immigration process is. Then tell me you would REALLY be more concerned about following the law than finding a way for your family to survive.

    Why would anyone risk death, discrimination, and imprisonment unless they had to to survive? Think about it. Get some empathy, people.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. janek

    Tony and Everybody are screaming Illegal, Illegal.
    That Mexican are the only Illegal here..

    OK let’s look at it really.

    How about all of the Cubans and Haitians that come to the US illegally in boats.

    The US has put in provisions to let them stay..

    Oh Tony the Native American Indians really did have sole claim and ownership to this land. Then the Mexican’s came and took a some of the land from them.
    We put the Native Indians on a reservation and killed and chased the Mexicans off.

    So who are really the illegal’s here

    The solution is simple people.

    Implement a “Work visa” for the Mexican or anyone else that is will to come and work.

    However deduct from their pay a fee for social services (hospital, schools etc)..

    Countries in Europe do it. (France, Germany, Spain, Italy).

    It is not a complex solution, but the government is to stupid to implement it because it makes sense.

    When was the last time our government implement a policy that made sense

    May 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lydia

    I'm thrilled to see Los Suns standing up against the new "show us your papers" law. I hope that Major League Baseball follows suit and pulls the 2011 All-Star Game from Arizona. After all, they wouldn't want their Latino players getting arrested for not carrying proof of citizenship or immigration status on them at all times. Although part of me wishes that *would* happen, just to embarrass the people who made this law.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
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