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 NBA.com 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 NBA.com.

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. Ed

    What a bunch of ignorant people. The new Arizona law only mimics what the federal law already is. In case any of you braniacs are not aware, it's already a federal law that any immigrant in the US must be carrying valid ID. In a lot of states, it is actually against the law for any citizen not to have ID on them.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Totally Not Surprised

    It is ridiculous that people are upset about someone or a group of people making a statement about an issue that is important to them. If you choose not to support the Suns because of their right to free speech, ok, they will be fine. You and your dollars will mean nothing. If this can deter you, you really weren't a fan, and you are easily persuaded.

    As for the hate being spewed on here...we are all immigrants. Some by force, some by choice, but none by right or with true permission. Therefore, get off your high horse, get beyond your superior morality, and let it go.

    Maybe you all should pray about it. Grow up, and move on!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eve

    Why are people acting like the suns did some outrageous thing? like the marched around singing mariachi and saying "we hate america!". they put LOS in front of their name. chill the crap out. everyone has the right to express themselves. just how all of you are so explicitly sharing your views, so can they.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rob

    they should shut the hell up and play basketball... if they don't like the immigration in our country, then go play in mexico... enjoy, los duechebags...

    May 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    "I encourage all Suns fans tonight to storm the turnstiles, refuse to show their tickets and grab everything they can-food, drinks, merchandise, then go and sit in the skyboxes and refuse to leave. If Sarver thinks that laws are meant to be followed only some of the time, then Suns fans should protest the outrageous prices for jerseys and a beer by not paying it."
    how accurate an example.
    That would be amazing.

    Nothing about the law is wrong. if you have a problem with profiling then go after the few officers dont trash a good plan unless you have a better one in mind and not doing anything is not a better idea,

    May 5, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phillip

    arizona lwas sucks

    May 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    Bravo Suns!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MyAlterEgo

    I wish Governor Awnold in California had the balls to do the same thing here in California, instead we get the jerk politicans in LA and San Francisco (a "sanctuary city") declaring themselves in favor of illegal aliens demanding amnesty and boycotting AZ.

    How about defending the freaking United States of America for a change instead of people who are breaking the law just by their entry. And don't even get me started on the drug smugglers....

    May 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Patrick

    People show up at the turnstyles without tickets and demand they be let into the game.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CR

    Bethany,

    IN RESPONSE TO MY POINT SYSTEM POST

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

    I understand the above comment 100%. The reason behind the point system is to resolve the illegal issue while addressing concerns due to lack of education, criminal backgrounds, and other factors. Unfortunately, we cannot due anything about the 50% you are referring to, but perhaps a point system will allow permanent residency to those that will provide the biggest direct benefit to this country and maybe most other illegals (maybe) won't be so fortunate to score high on the point system and they will provide some indirect benefits for us.

    The result will be more tax revenue, fines, residency (or path to residency) for some, and visas for a good number of illegals so they can continue to work and pay taxes. The point system will eliminate what we don't want.

    Of course, the above has to be implemented with systems such as e-verify, real ID, and an improved border security.

    Anyway, my solution is probably not the best, but at least I can say I'm thinking about something to solve this problem rather than fight about it.

    PS – I think what Arizona is doing may not be what I would do, but jsut like my point system.. someone is doing something about it and giving a solution even if it doesn't stand a chance in a court of law.

    thanks for reading.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Go SUNS (sold out arena)

    Go Suns! For the love of the game. From the Navajo Nation

    May 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lawrence

    Thats it, i will no longer support or watch the Phoenix Suns.
    The Million Dollor club can play in an empty stadium for all I care.
    They don't have to deal with the real issue's, my two teenage children cannot find a job, HMMM wonder why, who would hire them when they can all have there way with Illegals?
    And Big Tough Barkely, well he can just continue drinking and driving, stay out of important issues dummy.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ye Olde Suns

    At what game do the Suns wear their Ye Olde Suns jersey?

    May 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AZLEGAL

    Phoenix resident... support the new law!! No longer a Suns fan and will not be attending another game!

    May 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phillip

    go Suns for the love of the illegal

    May 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
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