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. Katie

    "Boycott the game and pray for a loss" – like God is going to listen to your hate-filled "prayers" and sway the game. How about your pray for something important, like the comfort of a sick person or for the waters in Memphis to recede.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 2X4

    Are you guys located in Mexico or US? So much for role models. ....!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Phillip

    god do not exist only satan

    May 5, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pancho Puke-o

    "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???"

    So the Native Americans just popped up from the soil on this continent? No, they immigrated here too. Did the Native Americans have an immigration policy in effect when the Europeans came? No they didn't, mostly because there were multiple, unrelated tribes who didn't get along. It's amazing how stupid and ignorant the people against this law are.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    Let Arizona take care of Arizona...It's there problem, and fortunately they had the "CAJONES" to do something about it...When you state get's over run then you can do what you need to do..

    May 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phillip

    we are located in your ass

    May 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lou

    I will not be watching the Suns tonight.. Althought I enjoy them very much.. This stunt to support a law is "stupid".. What country in the world can you travel in without showing your passport, or papers? Get real!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. w. greene

    I am sure that many NBA players are hispanic, but I bet you they are not illegal. that's the point.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. yotoque

    yeah, just go ahead and extend it to a "citizen's arrest".

    May 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Boston native

    If you actually took the time to pay attention, you might realize that the protests are "NOT" in support of illegal immigrants being in this country. The protest is for those of us who are here legally, and don't want to be subjected to harassment and racial profiling. How would you like it if there was a rash of Germans (for example) invading the US illegally, and a law was passed to allow the cops to stop and/or detain "you" because you look like you came from that country? You'd be screaming like a crazy fool that your rights as a tax paying, law abiding citizen are being violated. So spare me with the bullcrap that there is nothing wrong with this law!! STOP THE HATE!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    Absolutely a terrible move by the Suns owner and organization. Politics does NOT belong in sports. Once politics enters sports in this manner, the GAME is no longer a GAME. Ok Suns owner.... where are the African, European, etc.. jerseys? Don't you support Africa, Europe, Canada, South America?

    I WAS a huge Suns fan, No longer. Go San Antonio!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nearthesea

    Boycott the Suns

    May 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |

    Nope-RZD-a driver's license is enough ID-you see, illegals cannot get driver's licenses in any state
    So tehyr un teh license, if its OK, youre legal

    I think what a lot of ignorant liberals are msising is that the new AZ law is the SAME AS FEDERAL LAW-yep-not one thing changed

    It just upholds the federal law as mandated by the 1996 law that states that states have a right to uphold federal immigration laws

    who cares what basketball players say? they woudl all be flipping burgers if they werent tall...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pancho Puke-o

    "I am sure that many NBA players are hispanic,"

    3% are hispanic. 3 f***ing %.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phillip

    the yankess are just a 40 millions of retars .

    May 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
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