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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soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. did I miss something

    Dang Arizona stop getting your chonis all in a not, Wasn't this whole change of name thing really done in celebration of 5 de Mayo? the NBA has done this in the past.

    Does this mean that Arizona will soon pass a law and stop Mexican American's from celebrating 5 de Mayo?

    For now Happy 5 de Mayo to the state of Arizona, on behalf of us Mexican American's with right's!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. yankeefan

    To all of you Arizona "Boycotters" that are SOOOO concerned about potential human rights violations... I guess you've long ago stopped purchasing anything made in China – right???

    May 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason

    @LOUIE BLANCO- you have to be a citizen to be in office, btw do you have papers?

    May 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AGuest9

    There is no reason for American's to celebrate another country's holiday. We don't celebrate Bastille Day...

    May 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alejandro

    If the English is the only encouraged language, Why do we speak Spanish when we refer to Spanish Named States, Cities, Streets, Vehicles, People etc....... Many of you dimwits speak spanish on a daily basis, only sound ret@rded doing so.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Against Politics in Sports

    If my favorite team ever pulled a stunt like this, even if I agreed with their political message, I would not go to their games. Politics should not be involved in sports and involving politics in the NBA will harm the league.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. adam

    thank you suns for supporting my people who the only crime they commited was to come here illegally to provide for their families, too bad that decent working hard people has to pay with this unhuman law

    May 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    The cops will ask everyone the stop for ID. If you have a license with an address, you are good. The only ones against this law are illegals or friends of illegals. Do you think you are going to be driven to the border and dumped if you forget your ID?? No!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lossunsaremexican

    ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT NIGHT
    Tonight – US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
    Join us as we hand out free Mexican flags to all our illegal immigrant friends! Free tamales and guacamole for our greengo fans! Show your boleto at the taqueria on the mezannine, and get a free basketball pinata! Gracias por all our aficionados! Vamos Suns!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nick

    Los Illegales would be more appropriate

    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LOUIE BLANCO

    @ Jason just like there are people working with out papers how do really know that she is legal. Beside my point was that based on her skin color and her position she would not be questioned. If you read correctly I wrote " US LEGAL MEXICAN-AMERICANS" Get it right buddy. This law includes harrassament.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alejandro

    St. Patrick Day? Holloween (day of the dead for Aztecs, celebrated for thousands of years) Easter?

    Are there really any holidays that were not influenced by other countries?

    Are americans really that lame and stuck in the 1800's

    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DLH

    What fools people are!!! If you think this law will change anything you are foolish!!! Illegals are going to still come here with or with out this law!!! Until the feds secure the border no law will work.

    I can't believe people and all the racists talk referring to Hispanics as those people. Many of those people are coming here, as people call them, are looking for a better way of life and are not looking for a hand out. There millions of legal Americans living of federal handouts and I think its time to put a stop to it.

    I have seen hardworking Hispanics working many hours in the meat packing plants in the Midwest and pick crops in the west. As well as clean the toilets in American factories and office buildings. The reason for this is that most Americans think they are too good to do these jobs. Most Americans have become soft and lazy, especially the younger generation.
    I have two teenagers that think that flipping burgers for $7.00 is beneath them. What ever happen to paying your dues?
    My solution would be to first secure the boarders by whatever means necessary and then allow those from Mexico to come here and work legally. There would of course need to be cap in the numbers we allow to enter the country. Since, when does America deny those searching for a better life?
    We are decedents from immigrants mad all of our ancestors were at one time searching for a better way of life.
    It saddens me what America is coming to and this is not what this country stands for.
    It is time for all those who are sick of the right and the left to stand up and be heard.
    It is time for common sense to prevail. It’s time for common sense government. Not tax payer waste which is what this law is.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. plopsdad

    Alejandro

    Because each langauge spoken around the global usually incorporates a few words from other languages. The French use English words as do the chineese and visa versa

    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SUNLOVER

    At least they don't fall down on every play like Utah.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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