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. Rick

    I feel that the Suns ought to show everyone how much they really stand for this cause. They should show they are not hypocrites by no longer asking anyone coming into a game for a Ticket. Asking for a ticket reflects not trusting your fellow man to do the right thing, sort of like breaking the law. They should instead surrender that untrustworthy and unfair task to show everyone else how we should be.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AJ

    If you are white then you would never understand. You have never been profiled. The rest of us HATE racial profiling. Having to prove you are an American every single day is very UN-AMERICAN. They may do that in other countries, but that is why we are not other countries. We have freedom here, which means we are different than other countries. This law makes the U.S. the same as any other nation.

    FYI, the SPURS wanted to do this also but could not get jerseys printed in time. They have already said they support the Suns statement.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marco Gonzalez

    Recent attempt of car bombings***

    May 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |


    May 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. C

    I think people are being stupid over this new law.. I'm an Az native, and personally, I"m sick of all the illegals here and am for this law. Take a look at the immigration laws in mexico if your caught being there illegally vs. the US. You don't like it, then come to our country legally.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. plopsdad


    Only language taught, it amazes me how you can pull that out of thin air also, no one every said that. But if you talking about a second langauge, yes i know one, its Polish , daj mi buziaka

    May 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dawn W.

    @Steve it has nothing to do with a race card but if you believe that they are looking at a white persons ID you are sadly mistaken

    May 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. k3citizen

    The lawmakers in Arizona can never be taken seriously again. They received federal money to help protect their borders, but the money is used for other things, yet they blame the feds for not doing more. Post 627 is right, go after the people employing the illegals, they're the real bad guys because they refuse to hire Americans just to save a buck or two.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EW

    What I don't understand is why the hispanics are so upset? This law applies to everyone including illegal Irish, Italian etc. I know many illegal Irish that have been sent back to Ireland long before this law came into effect. Shame on anyone that comes to this country ILLEGALLY.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Merv

    As long as the federal government refuses to enforce the law states have no recourse other than doing it themselves. Tell me again what part of "illegal" you don't understand.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |

    Someone previously commented " Let's get real this is America", no wonder intellectuals mentioned the fact that " ignorance is the worst enemy of man". For the one that commented about America I have a rude awaikaning for you, Latin America is located in America, and the US is only a part of it. Did you think those Latin American were call that because it was a gift from the US...Wake up and learn more before making comments out of taste.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    Well said Hugo. Illegal immigration has always been a political hot button, and Republicans are using it now to rally support. Illegal immigration is NOT the main problem that we face here in Arizona...the drug trade is!! The vast majority of illegal immigrants are just trying to find a better life and are not out on the streets committing crimes. Just about every bit of violence that has been reported in the media as being initiated by 'illegal immigrants' involves drugs. Yes, we do need a better solution for securing the borders, but punishing all hispanics by writing a law that encourages racial profiling is not the answer. This law will do nothing to stop the flow of drugs, and THAT is the real problem. For the complainers on this board that snort coke or smoke pot, the border violence we face is because of you!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pedro_anonimo

    Los Suns are not real Mexican. Real Mexicans play futbol (you call it soccer).
    Most of the world plays futbol. You norteamericanos really should get out
    more & see the rest of the world.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hugo

    @647 Steve, I'm glad you have some common sense, this is not an act in support of Illegal Immigrants, but a show in support for the AZ community.

    Enough of the white, brown, black, blue, purple, whatever color you want to throw in the mix. Seriously some of you should reread what you post and are arguing. Yes we all want immigration laws, we just don't want racial profiling, AKA... RACISM!!! For every one fan the Suns loose due to some of your inabilities to have common sense, they have made 10 more who understand how this new law will affect many.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sweetwilliam

    Thanks post 655 – ironic, we're probably on opposite sides of the political spectrum but we can still have a conversation. A mistake is a mistake, hell, I like Raul Emanuel but he's been pulling a boneheaded moves as of late...

    May 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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