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. GirlNextDoor

    Unless you are a Native American, you are just like all the immigrants. Our great-grandparents were not asked for their papers by the Indians, were they???

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


    Show the power of the majority.

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

    For those that are to lazy to look up the bill:

    Assuming you can read (yes, it's in English) and that you read it, what part don't you understand?

    Can anyone remember when you could go to Home Depot or Lowe's without having to dodge at least 15 illegals?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ExAZSunsFan

    I WAS a lifetime SUNS fan untill this racist and mindless stunt. Goodbye SUNS! Spurs are going to teach you a lesson tonight!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Backatyou


    May 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. george

    Please note the word ILLEGAL!!!!!!! If you want to stay then follow the law and begin the citizenship process. At least a record of income would "allow" them to help pay for the emergency care they receive as taxes. You can also strike up one for the high labor costs associated with UNIONS.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dh

    I tottally agree with everyone saying illegal is illegal but what about civil rights. Correct me if I'm wrong but the only way this bill is different than what was already in place from is that now the police can randomly ask for ID because of a suscipcion. Come on, that's basically saying if you're brown get ready to show ID.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    We should bring back what Eisenhower did in Texas....Operation "WET BACK" was a joint operation where the military went to the border with Mexico and rounded up Illegals to try to stem the tide that was getting out of control. When we deported the illegals, we put them on trains where they would go far, far into the interior of Mexico...They decided to leave in hopes of not being deported so far away from there home..

    Oh and for the one's who say we should fine the businesses for employing illegals..Arizona already did that one a couple of years ago..

    It's embarrassing to see normal US citizens so misinformed about the law..Take some time out of this blog and go read it...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. clueless GirlNextDoor

    you have trouble see the difference between immigrants and illegal aliens, i suggest you look it up

    May 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pancho Puke-o

    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.

    There has to be a LAWFUL STOP, ARREST OR DETENTION in order for ID to be checked. Are you an idiot?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BBQGeorge

    USMC CHris-Interesting article. I didn't realize that. Nice to see an intelligent post and resources to back it up. I still think the law is not bad, but this changes my perspective a little bit.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jed

    if the owner of the Suns would like to open the arena to all willing spectators next season on the "honor system" than that would be a great statement of equality and trust. But i suspect that at some point he will discover that too many people have betrayed his trust and entered his arena for free only to sit next to someone who paid $250. Lets see how long that business model lasts. And when the business model begins to fail, he should cut the players salaries to cover the losses. the suns will no longer be able to attract talent to the team, and so the downward spiral begins. sound familiar ?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bethany

    @ Jason- I live in Texas and go to Lowes and Home Depot all the time and No I can't recall a single time that I went and passed 15 illegals. Maybe because I dont "assume" that every brown skinned person is illegal nor do I go around saying "show me your papers". Which one of these 2 do you fall under that your able to say that????

    May 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. W

    Why don't all you protesters volunteer your city and tax dollars to take thousands of illegals into your city? You would really help Arizona out by taking the strain off the system that can no longer support the current way it works. If every major city outside of Arizona pledged to take in 10,000 illegals we would be much better off.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phillip

    what about you yankees the all 40 million yankess all of them Aliens

    May 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
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