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
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  1. Les

    What makes the P. Suns think we give a darn about what they think about a law. Based on the behavior of basketball players in general, I'm not surprised they dont support the state of AZ.. Oh,, and how many of them are actually residents of AZ?? Furthermore, why would I care about the politics of an organization unable to translate the word SUN into spanish.....Maybe they should actually read the law they think they are against.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ye Olde Suns

    Le Suns? When is that jersey worn?

    May 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Danny

    I am glad to see a professional sports team take a stand on this issue. What many of you narrowsighted conservatives do not see that is wrong with this law- is that it opens the door to harassment of anyone who looks like they are of Latino origin. Many of you (probably most of you) who are so staunchly in favor of the law are white and never would have to worry about being mistaken for an illegal. There are better, less intrustive ways to approach this problem. I would be all in favor of going after the companies that hire illegals and not harrass anyone who looks latino- which is what is surely going to happen with this law. If you say it won't, explain to me HOW that WON'T happen.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guess what

    Basically we just don't need anymore people of any kind in this country. We don't take care of what we have.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ye Olde Suns

    All 3% of the NBA players who are hispanic are in support of this move.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ye Olde Suns

    Can't spell Los Suns with the LOSS!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    "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."

    Sorry dude but a cop asking if you are a citizen is not harrassment its an honest queestion.

    If you are not doing anyrthing wrong or are here legaly why would you care?

    May 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Phillip

    100% Illegal yeah baby

    May 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bethany

    @ CR- I completely understand what you were trying to say, and your right it's a thought a possible solution for this problem. A pretty good and humane one if I don't say so myself. I was just being sarcastic because when I read it all I could think of is the Many Americans I know who wouldn't be able to pass this point system.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phillip

    US a country of Freedom give me a break

    May 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |

    First of all there is no reason to boy cott the suns game. They didnt make the law. They are simply supporting the hsipanic community in the fight with this rediculos law. We should support the suns for supporting us. The Suns organization has helped communities throughout the years...

    May 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David

    @ Danny its not that it wont happen its that we dont care anymore. Get the cop fired if he is "harrassing" you. dont jsut say no. The law is good and needed.

    Quit hamstringing your government when they actually try to enforce it's laws.

    unless you start kicking some of these free loaders out of here the problem will never be fixed.

    Personaly i woul dtake immigration officers to these rallies and ask each and every person there if they were legal.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 420Activist

    Invest your money on Los Cardinales instead, lol.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    @1proudLatina – your hypothetical situations of the deportation threat exist with or without Arizona's new law. The point that you're missing here is illegal is illegal and the only way for illegals to live without the constant fear/threat of deportation is to not come to the US illegally.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Backatyou

    @nostradamus, alex and all the rest of you standing up for illegals, you and intellectualize and burp all you want, it all ends up the same...........excuses for sneaks.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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