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. Al

    After following this issue over the past few days and viewing the sometimes VERY disturbing comments, I think there's something that should be clarified. NO ONE in opposition to this law is denying that people should come into this country legally. So stop with your "i'm going to get free food, free drinks, be illegal" childishness. The problem with this law is that the means do not justify the ends. It is reminiscent of communist Russia and Nazi Germany to show "papers". NO ONE in this country should have to prove their citizenship when they haven't done anything wrong except "look illegal" or stand by a Home Depot looking for work. It is surprising that it's the conservative right that mostly supports this bill, but are often the first ones to call Obama a communist and a Nazi. I am all about immigration reform and securing our boarders, but not this way. And if a corporation like "Los Suns" wants to practice their right to free speech, then more power to them. I believe the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations can do that all they want in that regard.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pedro_anonimo

    Hispanic people will be immediately suspect because of how they look.
    If most Arizona people were illegal from Ireland, or England or Sweden,
    I would think every white person was here illegally.
    But that is not the case. That is the point..
    Cops will think to white people and black people "Innocent until proven guilty"
    For the Hispanics, it will be "Guilty until proven innocent"

    May 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alejandro

    Its funny how other minorities are For this bill, when they will be subjected to the same harassment by the Police. Legal or Not

    May 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. plopsdad


    Both are crminals, are they not. You cant pick and choose one crime or criminal over another. And if you think they are only here and the only crime is illegal immigration, i have a study from the CBO you might be interested in reading

    May 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. plopsdad


    May 5, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alejandro

    I bet you those English settlers were not expecting this

    May 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dash

    Racial profiling is illegal..I don’t think anyone has a problem in securing the borders... If a Hispanic US citizen is stopped and asked for ID. Is that fair? That’s illegal.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rancho Man

    That's what I'm taking about......VIVA MEXiCO!!!. Latinos and Mexicans have the the power to over turn any law. This is only the start for Latinos and Mexicans.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anthony diaz

    What happened to "LOVE YOUR NIEGHBOR AS YOURSELF"?
    YEA, your god may be cleaner & smarter....
    Your god might even be legal...
    MY GOD say's we are all equal!
    Remember "ONE NATION UNDER GOD"? You taught it,we DIED for it,
    now practice it!
    Happy "cinco de mayo",from FLG.AZ.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. atelier55

    Maybe I'm just being niave, the daughter of an immigrant and having gone through the byzantine process of getting legal work and residency permits in yet another country (which I then had to keep renewing for 10 years) I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND why some people in the US feel that it is FINE for anyone who wants to jump across the river to be here. Better yet, let them have 'anchor babies' here who get automatic nationality. My father joined the US Army in wartime to earn his citizenship LEGALLY. I lost out on a great job because it took me so long to get my work permit in another country LEGALLY. I am a firm believer in immigration, but when you don't go through legal channels to do it- you have forfeited any say in your situation. LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigration are not to be confused.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mking

    If the Arizona Law is racist so is the Federal Law....So the protesting better not stop if/when this law is repealed.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Josh

    The racism in this topic is moronic.
    Its not about profiling its about illegals (how many non mexican illegals do
    you think reside in arizona? not many)

    How is asking for there green card any different then asking me for my
    Drivers license registration and proof of insurance? Am I being profiled as a car theif for them asking for my registration? NO im being asked to prove im abiding by the laws our country is founded upon why should an illegal immigrant be trated better then a citizen its a simple request show me your green card Id.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pedro_anonimo

    It's funny how in the kindergarden, the White kids say to the Hispanic kids,
    "Go back to Mexico, you bean loving illegal anchor baby!!"
    jajaja.. American babies are so racist.
    Like they actually say those things. The kids are smarter than the adults sometimes

    May 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ExAZSunsFan

    Why stop with just the illegsls? We should round up ALL the Mexicans and ship them back to thier Holl Hole if they hate our LAWS so much! I guess the LAWS in Mexico are much better!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    Who's better then Kanyon? NOBODY!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
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