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. stephen

    Alright, so here in the U.S. all we have to do is apply for a passport, pay some cash, and oh my god we can now travel anywhere we want in the world! lets see now, for a mexican man whose family is doing so poorly that he must leave everyone he loves behind to risk his own life to cross over illegally because the process to apply for "papers" to enter the U.S. legally cost too much money for his family who can barely afford to even put food on the table. I'm sure he'd much rather stay there and watch his family suffer in their house made from whatever they could pull together to make a solid structure. So what is required to become a citizen here? Iin order to become a U.S. citizen you must learn english. Now how are these families who barely recieved an education, if any, supposed to learn a brand new language in order to come over and work the jobs that most Americans wouldn't do anyway. How many Americans would be willing to get up at the crack of dawn, go out and do yardwork all day in 100+ degree weathr or go work construction on a house or clean up after people. Not to mention they'd be working for way less and if while working, they are hurt, their boss will tell them to eff off because they are an "illegal". Now, how bad must your life be going that you would be willing to leave everyone behind to come over to the supposed "land of oppurtunity, but only if you can prove that you are here legally, cause other wise get the hell out". All these comments from you supposed "not racists" are proving that the majority of the American view of "illegals" are the sole product of Mexico when you fail to mention those who are here illegally from Asia, Africa, South America, you name it. Not everyone was as fortunate to be blessed with a home over their head and dinner on the table. No one is "for" making it easier for those who want the chance to earn a steady income . I support what the Suns are doing and am glad that there are some people out there who understand that we are a "melting pot". No I don't support getting here illegally but if it were made easier and people were willing to be a little more level minded we wouldn't be in this situation. After all didn't American's originally migrate from somewhere? I don't remember in my history book there being anything about custom agents asking the original settlers for thier "papers".

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 1ProudLatina

    Looks who's the idiot.... The point is that if you get stopped for the same reason...you won't be asked to prove whether you're a US citizen...

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. plopsdad

    Eduardo

    You have to be in the country first to be hired,blame goes both ways

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Prophet

    Brilliant! Los Suns! We are ALL God's children. Woe to Arizona's racists!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LJR

    based on these comments, it would appear that, with the departure of the right-wing lunatics as supporters, the suns will now have a largely racist-free fan base. go suns!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ralph

    the sus hav a right to voice their opions just like everyne else. Bravo suns. This law is just plain stupid.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wordclock

    Great. Illegals already think that the South of the U.S. is their property and have been trying to "take it back" for years and years now. Why would the Suns want to honor illegals immigrants who are breaking the law? The Suns are just pandering to the Latinos hoping to make money off them. Pathetic.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patty

    It is just stupid-plan and simple!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    To say about illegal immigrants that"they are only trying to get a better life" is that the same could be said for any burglar or bank robber. The fact remains that they knowingly broke the law of the U.S. and as such one would think that the other laws are in danger as well.
    Legal immigration is the answer but amnesty is not. You would not allow a bank robber to keep the money he stole just because he got out of the bank with it. But you would be in favor of anyone being able to get money from a bank in the legal way provided he qualifies for the loan. Putting deterrent measures in place at the bank is by far the best way to prevent the crime rather than leaving the money on the counter with every one in a different part of the bank and then cry because you were robbed. The analogy is to dry up the two things that lead to illegal immigration (1. jobs- force employers to hire only legal workers through a national data base and significant fines if they don't and 2. illegal drugs.) If employers need foreign workers then there should be legal means to access them which would keep a record of who comes and goes, keep immigrants out of the shadows and paying taxes and a legal path to citizenship. To show support for law breakers is not the answer and by the way to say that we need the cheap labor to pick fruit and vegetables is about the same thing as people 200 years ago saying Americans would not pick cotton and that is why we needed the Africans. To support illegal immigration is not doing any Hispanic person a favor.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JULIO ULLOA

    I agree with the Arizona law, illegal immigration has to be stopped. Now, the problem is non specific law, too genera. It gives the police ample authority to stop anyone perceive to fit the latino profile, or if anyone is naturalized citizen with an accent. I tell you, I fall in that category. Go ahead Arizona and profile me because you'll be making me a millionaire. I speak with reason and know how cops act, I'm one.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Karl

    Steve if you don't have any ID at the game tonight. You will arrest! (GO SPURS) I LOVE THIS GAME.....

    May 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. anthony diaz

    I think europeans,russians,germans & white america should be I.D.'d also. This nation was founded upon lies & the blood of over 60 million Natives.(broken treaties,desease&small pox infested blankets)Racism is arriving again...
    What would M.L.K. say?
    How can a white man say "leave & don't come back"?
    OR how can a white man say "this is my country"?
    NO IS THE ANSWER!!! How does a perfect white child look at a perfect red,brown or
    black child at school or in church?
    What happen to "

    May 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. T

    just do the right thing, be here legally. obey the law, show your id when asked and move on.
    I hope CA does the same thing. Politics have no place on the court. Just play the game.
    If you are here legally what are you so afriad of ? and if you are not; make it right or go home.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GirlNextDoor

    It has nothing to do with your legal status if you are a good person or a bad person. The NYC robber was an American citizen. Would you rather have him in the country or the Mexican gardener / housekeeper / dishwasher?

    May 5, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 1ProudLatina

    GO SUNS!!!! GO SUNS!!!!! You're in the USA and free to stand up for what you believe in!!!!! GO SUNS!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
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