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. Yaya

    Lets go Los Suns!!!

    FYI: Brazilians are LATINOS, they teach that in school.

    They are NOT hispanics... Jesus, this is not even the main point of the article

    Freedom of speech, get over it...

    The NBA can do whatever they want.

    And just for evreyones info, illegal immigrants do pay taxes... they dont get anythign abck (refund)so calm down!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom, Long Beach, California

    The NBA and Phoenix should stay out of it. The majority of Americans(765) are against illegal immigration, it's pitfalls, it's costs and amnestry for ALL. Watch out NBA or you may alienate pun intended and Speak ENGLISH

    May 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bethany

    @ LOUIE BLANCO- some people are so narrow minded that they can' t understand that were against this bill NOT because we support illegal immigration, but because we're against RACIAL PROFILING!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom, Long Beach, California

    76% not 765

    May 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dan

    Go Spurs!!! "Los Suns" sounds reallly tonto.

    Nice move to tick off the 70% of Arizonans who support the illegal immigration bill and are probably a large number of season ticket holders. The Spurs have several foreign players, but they're all here legally.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SunsFanSince1968

    True Suns fans stick by their team through thick and thin. This illegal alien controversy does not affect me. I watched the 1976 championship series vs. Boston on my TV. I went to the games when Walter Davis and Kyle Macy were big stars. I have a ticket to tonight's game and I will attend. And I will enjoy my burrito as Amare Stoudamire goes down the lane for a slam dunk.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Becki

    Alejandro #603: we are not teaching that the only language in the world is English! We are teaching that the official language of the United States is English!!! Maybe you should "press 1" now!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 1ProudLatina

    Tennessee??? When Katrina hit, who do you think was at the forefront helping during recovery... Mexicans from Mexico!!! Sure, when you need them....bring them in.... Just like in World War II.... After 500,000 Mexican Americans were deported back to Mexico during the Great Depression... Guess who was brought back to work during World War II.... MEXICANS. They were brought continuously from 1942-1964... THE BRACERO PROGRAM...look it up...

    May 5, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DLH

    I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of the law. The problem is how it will be enforced. The only way I see is by racial proofing which means every person Hispanic or Latino decent can be harassed by the police even those that were born here. This to me is a violation of ones rights?

    Technically this should apply to everyone since there are illegal immigrants from all over the world, even Europe!!! So does that mean I will need proof of citizenship when I go to Arizona?
    I guess that is OK since they look like the majority of Americans.
    I am of European decent. Ancestors come from German and Sweden.
    I thought Arizona was part of the US.

    Welcome to the US land of the free ....if you’re white!!!
    Welcome to the US were racism is alive and well!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sweetwilliam

    Can someone please explain to me why the AZ gov't is putting the burden on the police instead of simply going after the businesses that pay illegal immigrants? Oh yeah, 'cause it's all lip service and they don't really want to get rid of anyone, they don't want to mess up the good thing they have going on down there, paying people to work for next to nothing. But I think it's kinda cool to see how easy it is for these conservatives to confuse and dustract their own base. Suckers!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Travis

    Not a good move. I will not be watching the game tonight!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    Please tell me how an illegal gets a SSn and pays taxs??? And everyone will so ID. Will they ask me for ID in Mexico? I bet they will and that makes all mexicans racists!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jarjar78

    Just another example of how corporations care nothing about keeping this country safe. Wearing those jersey's means keeping the latino dollar coming in. Washington is bought out by large corporations that control votes, and that is why there will never ever be anything done about this illegal immigration problem.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 1ProudLatina

    In defense of Alejandro, not only are people arguing that English is the official language, they also want it to be the only language taught. Frankly, I'm not backwards in my thinking...the way I figure it, the more my child knows the better. My son (2nd generation American) speaks both English and Spanish fluently and will be learning a 3rd language as well. The more you know, the more opportunities you have. If you want to limit yourself to one language, be my guest.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jose


    May 5, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
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