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. JRomano

    Good! lets go Los Suns I'm all for you, and I,m not a basketball fan but I'm a Los Suns fan now.
    I,m a Yankees fan maybe baseball should do the same with;

    Los Yankees
    Los Doyers
    Los Gigantes
    Los Padres
    Los Cardenales
    Los Mets
    so on and so foward! Yeah lets Manifest Destiny right?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Leper

    Isn't it funny when non-citizens comment on domestic politics. Eff the Suns I say. It's too bad cause I used to like their team. In fact, eff the whole NBA for even approving this. See if I buy any products from the NBA anytime soon.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    @to Megan:Thats right! You Mexicans, call everyone a racist, when in fact you smear Americans. You turn the truth into lies, you tell whites you hate them (not racist are you), you call Americans Hitler, Nazis, bigots, racists and every epitaph you can, then think we should want you here. Racist yourself, now go home. So you went to Spain, La De Da.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Karen

    It is interesting that only Hispanic individuals are supposed to be 'unjustly' affected by this law. Aren't those opposing just admitting that the biggest problem of illegal immigration stems from Latin countries, because I don't see worry for those of Asian or African background.... Many countries require you to care ID, and actually the police are allowed to ask for your ID at any time, so the anger just prove that many people admit that illegal immigration is a rampant problem in Arizona but don't want to help stop it.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. spike

    way to go!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    At the halftime show they'll have a political debate.... right after the mascot tries to dunk off the trampoline.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. jim

    can we continue to let illegals take government money that we provide. I'm sorry, i am not a racist or bigot,but the reason for not being legal is what? usually there is a reason for not allowing them to become citizens (criminal history etc...) so instead they crawl under a fence or however else they get here. they do it illegally. the only people that i see opposed to this is illegals and all the stars and politicians. pretty pathetic that i have to watch about all the protests. i'de like to see a poll on cnn i bet at least 70% of people are for az's new law and enforcing the federal laws that are already in place. I will never watch or buy any phoenix suns paraphanalia. I think everyone should boycott the boycotters.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. rightofrush

    I used to support the suns, but no longer. I will spend my hard earned money elsewhere.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. Adam

    I hope everyone who goes to the Phoenix "Los Suns" game tonight shows up without a ticket. They're human, so they have a RIGHT to be there.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. rightofrush

    which part of the word "illegal" is not understood?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. Sickofit

    Ever notice that foreign athletes (Steve Nash – Canada) and actors (Michael J Fox – Canada) are always telling us what's good and proper instead of letting the majority rule? Well, the legislature and governor in Arizona enacted this law because the federal government wouldn't. Ship 'em all home and may they never return!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ral Klundby

    have enjoyed my last game as a Sun's fan, will not be part of a political statement that favors either side of this debate. It was fun to be a fan, I Know a few families don't make much difference. but we do watch some games and buys some merchandise. Thanks for the great memories.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. real citizen of america

    People needs educated as to the meaning of LEGAL and ILLEGAL. If you are here legally and have papers, then no sweat. But if you are here ILLEGAL then get out, come back later when you have papers proving you are legal. The law is the law. If you cant abide by the law then what good are you to this country. So GET REAL!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. Chuck

    Yes, let's get our political views and policy decisions to all be based around the sports industry. We all know they're all secretly geniuses working in a shadow society that acts as the hand of reason with all of the United States' public affairs.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. steve

    Perhaps the owner of the Suns should be put on trial for treason?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
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