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. alicia

    Farmers were killed by DRUG TRAFFICKERS. Get your story straight.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jimmy

    hey enough will all the hate let the suns do what they want to, its not up you, mexicans are here to make somthing of them self and have a beeter futur for them or they'er families. go suns and lakers but mostly lakers

    May 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Let's Move On

    For the first 90 days EVERYONE should be carded. That would solve all the problems.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Slufootsue

    BeReal, you are absolutely right about "...this nation is built on the backs of immigrants..." however, most came here and earned citizenship, went through the process and learned English. They did not storm the borders, rob, kill, demand intrepreters, want everything in language and not learn English. Let the illegals go home, come back and go through the process. Stop exhausting our systems and learn English.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. noodlez

    "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???"

    Oh no you didnt! BooYah to you sir, Booyah!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    I usually root for the Suns, but not this post season. If an organization wants to take political sides, then they don't need my attention. Barkley and Manu have the right to speak out as well, but unless they have any ideas on how to fix the crime and economic problems caused by ILLEGAL immigration, they should cork it OR use their wealth to fix the problems.

    Again, the law only allows AZ to enforce THE US LAW.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ANDRES IBARRA

    INS HAVE OIL ON U.S.A.FOR DOOM DAY.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jose

    Well this law doesn't bother me one bit. Worse case secenerio lawsuit for racial profiling 😀 <333 and while the states are after the mexicans (let's be honest), we can have terrorists bombing other places such as Times Square, etc etc etc

    May 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lossunsaremexican

    Too bad the Boston Celtics didn't wear jerseys that said "Erin Go Bragh!" on St. Patrick's Day. It works both ways, folks.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    Stupid move by the Suns.
    They need to stay out of the business of politics.
    They exist to entertain, not alienate a large segment of your fan base.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. C. Aquino

    Make it fair. Have every single peron carry an ID that indicates that he/she is a US citizen. Also include fingerprints to make it easier to find all criminals (regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation). Tourists would have to carry their passports. Problem solved!

    Posted by: US Citizen

    So you want us to be like South Africa during Apartheid?

    May 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alejandro

    plopsdad Whats your point.?

    May 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AGuest9

    Calling all ICE Agents!!! 1-866-347-2423
    Tip-off of a high concentration of illegal immigrants.
    Tonight @ US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    May 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hopalong

    For Liz @ post 236

    I am no fan of Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck. That having been said, please explain what causes these individuals have suported that encourage ILLEGAL activities. Your post is really nothing other than an attempt to divert the focus of what the AZ bill is all about. ILLEGALS.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alicia

    And I wholeheartedly agree with DLH – we need to secure the borders but we DON'T need to be RACIST and start stopping everyone who looks Hispanic "just to make sure they're here legally". PLUG the POROUS BORDERS and LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PEOPLE COMING HERE IN SEARCH OF A BETTER LIFE AND THOSE COMING HERE TO PERPETRATE CRIME. WE HAVE ENOUGH RACISM we need LESS RACISM AND MORE LOGICAL THINKING TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
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