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. Margroks

    The reason people object to this law is because it will allow law enforcement to target anyone who looks like (read: Mexican) an illegal which means harrassing LEGAL American citizens. Legal residents of the country shouldn't be harrassed because they look a certain way. That's racial profiling and it's not fair to those who have followed the rules and are legal residents.

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

    @ Margroks.. exaxtly my point.. thank you

    May 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve

    Everyone will get carded. ANd no one is saying throw immagrants out. Most mexicans are very hard working and I cant blame them for coming here. We need Immagration reform to allow them to become americans, or even just receive work visas..

    May 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. plopsdad


    Point is just because words from another langauge are used doesnt mean we are encouraging the use of that language as a primary spoken language in this country.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    Hey Stevey Nash, (Chuck Barkley and Manu) don't get caught in MEXICO without your papers. It's a felony.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |

    I have been banned from saying anything insightful by CNN. The wording of the Arizona law is foolish and instead of creating hatred they should fix the wording.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lossunsaremexican

    Steve Nash is such a sell out, hee hee.... You are correct. Tonight's game is already sold out. Standing room only...

    May 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alejandro

    May 5th, 2010
    2:30 pm ET

    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 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GBQ

    I agree with the Suns & the NBA. As a business that employees people and has a customer base in AZ, the NBA needs to decide which side they were on in this issue.

    Hope MLB decides to relocate their 2011 Allstar game if this law is not repealed.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    Have any of you really read the law?? So please tell me how much it is going to bother you when you are asked for ID. They are only asking if you are comitting a crime, and you should have a license to drive right?? It sounds awfull!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Vivian

    Their jerseys should read LAS SUNS because they're a bunch of wimps who have sold out to the PC crowd.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jmoore

    How come if you are for the bill and for people entering this country legally, regardless of race, you are callled a racist? I am not a racist but I am for the bill and anything we can do as a country to stop this ridiculous flow of illegal immigration. The first thing these people did in our country was break the law. I have no problem with anybody coming here but follow the procedures. Flip it around, the Mexican Immigration process is more complicated and harder than ours and they want to complain about it. As a taxpayer, I'm tired of paying for a group of people who use every one of our services and pay nothing into the system. It's not right and it needs to stop. Quit throwing out the race card and encouraging criminal activity. Laws are in place for a reason.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Truth

    We're so worried about sympathizing with ILLEGAL immigrants for actually having to obey the law, that we're forgetting about the devastation of our OWN CITIZENS in Tennessee.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. alexandre

    Some of these comments seriosuly needed some rethinking before being posted, but I suppose some people are just incabable of separating emotional and biased rhetoric from standard fact and data. Someone on here refered to Leandro Barbosa not being Hispanic and that somehow he shouldn't have been part of this dialogue. Well, I am Brazilian and and let me tell you, I am Latin and Hispanics are Latin. The term Hispanic shouldn't have ever been created but some people deemed it necessary that Spanish speaking people need be categorized. Although Brazilians speak a different language, we share virtually the same culture. And for your information, the US census also categorizes Hispanics as racially White or Black. For the most part, most of all of those immigrants in Arizona are therefore "white" according to this very country (USA). I merely state this because some people have the dillusion that Mexicans are not White. At one point in this country, Italians were not White, Irish were not White, Jews were not White. Do you see the trend here...a new scapegoat perhaps? Where is your thought on that you people that support the AZ law? I am for immigration reform and also believe in the respect of laws for the diligent order of any country. I disagree with illegal immigrants rallying and demanding rights in a country of which they are not yet a citizen..but there is where the issue lies. There needs to be a remedition to the status of people living here illegally..deportation is one avenue but we have seen that does not work. And when something does not work, what does logic tell us? Find and study an alternative. The AZ law is hasty at its attempt to deal with an issue it has created chaos and awakened racist epitaph in many people. One may argue that it is not racist to portect our laws, but if the law itself is worded in such a way that it enables racisim under the guise of being an enforceable law..then yes my friends the outcome is always based on racism. We have had laws in this naition before, and let me tell you, those laws were the quintessence of the most racist of dark evils and yet they were laws. There is an issue here that most certianly needs to be remediated..but this law is flawed in so many ways. What I have failed to see on these posts is a discernible alternative to what has been preseneted as a solution.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DLH

    I thought the freedom of speech was the right of every American?

    I am reading things like these players should keep there opinions to themselves. I bet if they were agreeing with this stupid law those same people would have no problem.

    The last time I checked these players are afforded the same freedom of speech as those that are complaining about their stance on the immigration law.

    The conservatives think freedom speech only applies when everyone agrees with their agenda. If you disagree you have no freedoms.

    It really time for some common sense!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
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