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. Alejandro

    Alejandro

    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.
    Posted by: plopsdad

    tHIS COUNTRY IS ABOUT EDUCATING ONE'S SELF.

    How dare you teaching the new generations that the only language spoken in the world is English, quit lying to yourself.

    Get out of the 1800's

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

    Good point!! If i'm in mexico will they ask me for papers??? ANd I should have them so no big deal..

    May 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    The NBA wants everyone to know that they will need a ticket to get into the game. The NBA is also advising people that they will be thrown out without a ticket! Rules must be followed.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. IMD_Walrus

    Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Manu Ginoboli – please show your green cards before entering the arena.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    And liberal will just throw up the race card every time!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. webb

    Well, the Suns just lost my support as long as Sarver is involved.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. alicia

    Mr. (or Mrs) "Truth"
    "Sympathizing with ILLEGAL immigrants" – this is a discussion, LEARN THE DIFFERENCE. What is happening in Tennessee is a tragedy and this discussion doesn't render sympathy for that tragedy to be mutually exclusive. Learn the difference, please crack a book every now then.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bubbish

    Sad, disrespectful and a slap in the face to the family of Mr. Krentz, the rancher who was murdered in Douglas by an illegal. Wait until a family member of one of these players is killed by an illegal drunk driver, or murdered by same in a crime, who then flees back to Mexico. Betcha they won't be flaunting their support then! These basketball players must have a really high opinion of themselves to assume because they are spoiled, highly paid and high profile, this is an acceptable venue for their political beliefs, and are the voice for many Americans. All it does is confirm their arrogance and poor judgement.
    Hope many fans show their disgust by staying away from future games.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Becki

    @ Slufootsue #576: Amen Sista!!! I agree 100%
    @ C. Aquino #583: Whorah to you too! 🙂 100%

    And if that doesn't work...throw them in jail or ship them back-to WHATEVER COUNTRY THEY COME FROM!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SunsFanSince1968

    Win or lose, cheer or cry, Phoenix Suns Fan till the day I die!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ron in Chandler AZ

    I think this is awesome! I don't support this racist law (BTW I am as white as they come). These poor people dont hurt anyone. Go Los Suns!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. plopsdad

    Alejandro

    Funny how you try and put words in my mouth. Please give the number to the post where i said that. I never said english is the only langauge spoen here, but its the Preferred and dominant one spoken here.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 7GTEXAN

    YOU TRIUM PATRIOT WHAT PROOF DO YOU HAVE THAT THE RANCHER WAS KILLED BY AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT DID YOU EVER THINK THAT HE WAS KILLED BY SOMEONE HE NEW AND DIDN;T LIKE. I THINK THE RANCHER NEW HIS KILLER
    THE WELL FED RANCHER THE ILLEGAL DID NOT HAVE A CHANCE AFTER WALKING IN THE DESERT WITHOUT FOOD AND LITTLE WATER WHAT WOULD BE THE REASON TO KILL SOMEONE UNLESS THE POOR MAN FELT THREATEN FOR HIS LIFE.
    HE DID NOT TRESSPASS FOR THE RANCH AND I DOUBT THE ILLEGAL STOLE HIS TRUCK TO GET CLOSER TO HIS DESTINATION PLEASE I HOPE YOU DOD YOUR OWN YARD CLEAN YOUR HOUSE AND PLEAS A LITTLE ADVISE I HAPE YOU DON'T LIKE MEXICAN FOOD AND GO OUT AND EAT IT THERE MIGHT BE A SNOT FOR YOU
    I HOPE THE NEXT FREEWAY YOU DRIVE ON IS BILLED BY YOUR WHITE FRIENDS
    AND THE FRUIT VIGGIES YOU EAT ARE PICK BY YOUR FAMILY.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    Why not just move the team to Mexico City? Then you will feel right at home.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hugo

    No one is arguing that Illegal Immigration is not wrong, no one is arguing that we don't want safer boarders, by all means. The issue is with how the law is written. Will racial profiling occur, absolutely, but if you are not on the receiving end you won't care. What's next, everyone wearing a dog caller so they can be identified. What happened to feeling safe on the streets, what happened to innocent until proven guilty. This law pretty much makes anyone who looks like they don't belong in the US, based on their race, how they dress, how they speak, guilty and subject to questioning. Unfortunately this law does affect Latinos, Hispanics, Mexicans, whatever other derogatory names you want to call us, since that is predominantly the population in AZ. We will be walking targets. So the Suns and the NBA want to show their support for the Arizona community, let them. So while some of you are on your computers bad mouthing the Suns, they are making a stand for human rights. They are not saying illegal immigration is ok, they are merely saying they don't support racism!! Wish people would open their eyes to the real issue instead of seeing things one-sided. If you are so concerned with illegal immigrants taking your jobs, than some of you who are on your computer writing a bunch of BS, should be out looking for a job and making a greater effort. Go SUNS!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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