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. Eduardo

    well said Marco Gonzales – oh and don't foreget oil = middle east

    May 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    @ Dawn...they're going to look at EVERYONE's ID. If you have a license or ID from the state, that's enough to prove citizenship. The trobule comes when you don't have ID. I really think that white people will be investigated too, just to avoid the notion that they may be profiling. It's the same with TSA pulling grannies out of line to be "randomly" searched. I think the law is flawed, but not because of the profiling issue.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dale

    unless you are middle class and below and live in the south western states you do not understand the full impact of illegal immigration – you have a right to your opinion but it does not carry much weight

    May 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chad in ARIZONA

    First, it is a shame that Mr. Stern and Mr. Starver and Mr. Nash are even taking a position on this issue. I believe it is a bad idea! Right now, in the playoffs, there may be enough fan/excitement support to overcome most peoples disdain for their position, but ultimately it may end up costing the NBA and the Suns; I mean, "Los Suns". 76% of Arizonan's agree with this bill and that something had to be done, including 59% of Hispanics. If 76% of the season ticket holders boycotted the team, what would that accomplish to your "Principal Objection."
    Second, I agree with "Most" of what this bill states; I am not sure it is possible to completely agree with "every" part of any political bill! Anytime you implement a political position on immigration, it will always be met with some people's assertion that it will create "Racial Profiling". But the reality is; IT ALWAYS WILL!! That is an unfortunate and unintended result of any immigration bill that has passed, or will ever pass.
    Something had to be done, and I am proud that my state has taken the LEAD! It's time our federal administration did the same!
    In the meantime, I hope the Suns win; but this outward display from Sarver and Nash (and those supporting them) has given me one more reason of substance to reduce my respect for both of them!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sweetwilliam

    @ Dale – you need to get out more son. Have you ever been to KCK? Miami? You're comment obviously doesn't carry much weight, nor does you opinion: )

    May 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kyle


    May 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael De Lisle

    Well expect the suns ratings to go down even further. You would think that with such poor ratings in the playoffs that the suns would not get into politics. The majority of the people in Arizona, including myself support the new bill. People who hire illegal immigrants like the developer buddies of Mayor Phill Gordon, don't like the bill. I for one will BOYCOTT the rest of the playoffs. This is America. English is our national language. The 4th of july is our Independence day. Cinco De whatever does not apply here. And to put "Los" on your jeer-z is insulting to the american who lost a job to an ILLEGAL Immigrant. The NBA lost a lot of my respect during the strike, years ago. Now they have lost my viewer-ship. I hear Mexico City is looking for an NBA team. Well LOS SUNS you now have a place to go. But don't expect them to support you as we here in AZ did.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 1ProudLatina

    One of the biggest complaints I've read so far is about all the crime illegal immigration brings and why this law is justified. I have a suggestion for all of you...

    How about we come down hard on all the drug users here in the U.S., that everyone be subject to a monthly drug test that way everyone is treated equally and not one specific ethnic group is targeted. By doing so, demand for drugs will go down, will save billions in healthcare, we'll lower crime rates, drug cartels will stop existing (because if no demand, no drug cartels). I think it's only right we each give up our civil liberties, so that we can nip this major problem in the butt. Does this sound reasonable to you all? We've got nothing to hide right? I've got no problem being checked for drugs each month.... We should do this for our country... WHO'S WITH ME?!?!?

    May 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pedro_anonimo

    Hispanics are upset because... the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Hispanic. The law is about illegal immigration, and the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Hispanic. Yes, there are illegal immigrants there that are white, Asian, etc, I'm sure. But the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Hispanic. If you are a LEGAL Hispanic citizen, you will be stopped, because the cops will think you are here illegally. Even if you are a native U.S. Citizen. Even if you are a lawyer or own a restaurant. Because remember, the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Hispanic.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Michael De Lisle

    Boycott the suns and the NBA.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bohica

    Hey post 646 what Indian tribe do you belong to? They are the people that were here first. The Mexican government claimed land that didn't belong to then and then sold that land to the United States. Sounds like a long history of lawbreaking to me.

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

    To AJ #649. WRONG !! I am "white" (actualy kinda of off-white-tan) with blue eyes. One night my buddy and I were driving around Las Vegas and we got turned around and ended up on the "wrong" side of I-15. We were stopped by a black police officer. He actually told us he wanted to know why two white guys were driving around in that black neigborhood at night. We showed him our ID and went on our way. It didn't, and still dosen't bother me. He was trying to keep the peace in that part of town, and helped us go the right way in the process. If it is to hard for you to show some ID when asked, stay home. I'll show mine any time you want.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. observer

    The fact that few people on this forum have referenced the fact that Steve Nash was an immigrant reinforces much of the criticism levelled at the Arizona law. That it will only be directed at "brown" people from Latin America, not "white" people from Vancouver.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    Doubtful that any of the "NBA" players are illegals

    May 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dale

    Graffiti by itself is a very under estimated as far as the damage it does to America – and SORRY but this mainly a Latino thing – It can degrade large portions of cities

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