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. tony

    i applaud Los Suns for what they are doing.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. texaslady2

    Seems pretty silly to me. Are they trying to push Spanglish? "Los Suns" makes no sense in either language! Arizona is 100% right, and Charles Barkley needs to understand that it has nothing to do with race. It's all about the broken laws, "Sir Charles". There is no illegal alien here who hasn't violated a whole list of our laws in order to get here and stay here. Actions have consequences, and they can't violate a bunch of laws and then expect to escape the consequences.

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

    Done with professional basketball and giving up my season tickets because of this. Sports and politics DO NOT mix and should not be used to spread propaganda this way.

    We need illegals to take the classes and BECOME legal – instead there are people who can't get AZ health care because illegals come across the border to have their children (born here is making them citizens and therefore qualifies them for state programs taking them away from US CITIZENS.)

    May 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Phillip

    fuc*****k you texaslady2

    May 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Centaurlove

    So the law has been in place for a week now right? Wheres all the stories of racial profiling that we were supposed to hear about?

    May 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Becki

    You get caught in Mexico illegally and you go directly to jail. No questions asked. No $200. No Food stamps, medicaid, gov't assistance, child care, birthing, free medical or free college. Just jail. Let's do that!!!!! Welcome to the country...let me show you to your new's just behind these bars!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |

    The problem David is that if you took immigration officers to these rallies "Who are they going to question" all the Hsipanics or anyone that looks hispanic or are they going to ask anyone that looks white? Obviuosly you know the answer to that question. That is the problem with this law. Even though it doesnt specifically say to question hispanics but we all know who ther talking about.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bethany

    @ david- Dude that is harassment but I suppose white david wouldn't know how it feels like to be asked questions based on your skin color

    May 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. liausdhiufhap

    go bama!!!! roll tide roll

    May 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Ryan

    Who cares what the NBA thinks about a law that should have been in affect a decade ago. It might have prevented 9/11. Look if your an illegal immigrant your breaking the law. ILLEGAL means not legal. I believe in racial profiling. I think that every pakistani, and middle eastern people should be checked out. If asking a few people for some proof of residency will prevent the invasion of countries and a war so be it. These people from other countries wanna complain about the laws in the US, than go back to where you came from Im sure there laws were much better. Thats why you left to come to the US in the first place.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Linda Pedro

    Bravo for Los Suns! Anything done to demonstrate the idiocy and facisim of the AZ law is wonderful!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Let's Move On

    Stan would like to know: "what other country that has immigration problems demand papers from people every chance they get?"

    Switzerland for one. I've had to prove legal residency to get a job, get a licence, get an apartment, get a bank account, get health insurance, get a credit card, get a rail pass, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting.

    And yes, Linda, I know what it is like to be discriminated against. The rest of the world doesn't seem to like Americans much.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jason

    @CentaurLove- takes 90 days from the date it was signed for it to be in effect.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AGuest9

    I would be REALLY upset if I were a resident of Phoenix – after all, MY tax money would have paid for the arena that these ingrates are playing in...

    May 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Angerl

    Just be legal and there will be no issues.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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