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. DLH

    Go Hugo!!! I agree with you!!!
    Common sense!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. the moi

    These people are showing they are NOT Americans! They need to be thrown out of the country with the illegals.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Go Suns Go

    I hope they play the Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin on the PA system when they introduce the Suns players.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Wow you people just us the race card for everything. Probably cause your illegal. THEY ARE LOOKING AT EVERYONES ID, EVEN WHITE PEOPLE!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SlappyChuckles

    What do you say about a sport that was given away by the inventors to blacks who can't play without double dribbling and carrying and scream about playing by the inventor's rules. One bounce is one bounce and after 20 years of ignoring the rule they recently changed it.

    Why has affirmative action given this sport away to one group of people who can't follow the rules.?

    Like the illegal aliens, who also can't follow the rules?

    Illegal is illegal and neither can conform.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe Momma

    Do you people really think Commissioner David Stern gives a rat's a$$ about illegal immigration laws?!

    It's all about jersey sales. If tonight's matchup sells 1000 "Los Suns" jerseys to Latinos feeling the Cinco de Mayo spirit, then that's a victory for $tern and the NBA.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Go Suns Go

    Maybe they can play "Bidi Bidi Bum Bum" by Selena, every time Nash hits a 3 pointer.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chicana102

    GO SUNS!! thank you for standing up for immigrants everywhere from all nations!!! So proud to see this. and Charles Barkley...right on!! =]

    May 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sweetwilliam

    the moi???????????????? Americans are Americans exactly because of this... silly goose: )

    May 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marco Gonzalez

    looks like you moronic people are focusing on the wrong border or even immigrants...lets see 911=middle east. 1st attempt TWIN TOWERS= Middle East. RECENT CAR BOMBINGS=Middle you morons are focused on the smallest of things until someone blows something of yours up....then are we all Americans that Should stand united....pshhhhhh iam a US Citizen when i travel to foriegn countries i say im mexican....if i include American i might aswell have said im stupid like these people with ignorant comments......

    May 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 1ProudLatina

    Another thing, I keep hearing all this crap about how money is sent back to Mexico, etc, etc... I've lived in border towns and away from them as well. I've seen the large amounts of people crossing the border everyday to buy American products. Living in Florida now, I have many friends from South America who travel to the US to shop. Billions of dollars are contributed to the US from Latin American tourists. The town I live in now depends on these tourists, especially during the Polo season.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Boo

    Go Arizona! The word "illegal" says it all. If I do something illegal I fully expect to be punished. In the case of Arizona, an illegal immegrant is not punished, they are just sent home. I think they should receive a one year sentance to hard labor for breaking the law. Then send them home, where ever that is.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dman

    you know what America needs? "Operation CLEAN-UP" if your here illegal then it's time we we send you back where u came from. it's time Americans stand up for there self's, we are losing jobs because people will rather hiring somebody dirt cheap!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. clos

    Maybe it's better that all these racist Phoenix fans boycott these games anyway. They are only going to lose to Los Spurs anyway! And quit acting like you want to just send all these so called illeagals "home". They are from this land not you! Mostly native and spanish names in Arizona cities. Where would all these Immigration reformers be if we had kicked your illegal butts out a lomg time ago? Somewhere back in england probably. Feel free to "just go home"!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    I think this is a good move for the team, but regret how this has turned into a "brown and white" issue. I live in AZ and support the Latino community. I do not, however, support the illegal immigrant community. I'm down with the Los Suns jerseys and hispanics. The hispanic community is part of what makes this state great and defines our culture. Unfortunately, there isn't enough resources to go around right now and illegals are using some and not paying their fair share. When this happens, the free riders get targeted, sucks to be them. Don't boycott the Suns; as far as I'm concerned, they're honoring the 30 percent of the population here that is hispanic, not illegals.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
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