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. Judy

    Why not show the name of your team in the language of all the 36 countries you're so proud of? Most, except Mexico, are required to enter this country legally. We welcome ALL people, including but not limited to Mexico. If others around the world can apply legally and come to the US, why can't Mexicans do it the right way?

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

    plopsdad#695 – You have to be in the country first to be hired,blame goes both ways


    how does it go both ways? nobody is forceing the LEGAL american business man to hire ILLEGAL immigrants for the job.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 1ProudLatina

    How dense can people be??? Think they'll ask a white person for a green card Josh???

    That's the point!! They'll ask me because my skin is brown and I look Mexican. I'm a US think it's ok for my right to be infringed upon???

    May 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeri


    POST 390

    May 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George W.

    Send them back home! They are home, Arizona was mexico. Too bad the Native Americans are from here too, otherwise there would be a law trying trying to deport them too. What the hell, lets deport them too, their brown. Why stop there, we should send back all of them dam lawbreaking Europeans immigrants. They were the original illegals and thieves. The United States Was started by a bunch of squatters stealing Indian land.

    Immigrants kicking immigrants out, go figure. Lets kick everybody out of the United States and make it a national park. Remember, if you are white, you come from immigrants. This is not the birth place of your ancestors. You are a foreigner.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 1ProudLatina

    Plain and simple, I should be free to go anywhere in this nation without ever being asked for my papers!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Truth

    We're so worried about not offending ILLEGAL immigrants for actually having to obey the law (and changing our sports team's names), that we're forgetting about the devastation of our OWN CITIZENS in Tennessee. Sad times

    May 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gary, Los Angeles

    And I will be rooting for them to LOS LOSE! I have no problem with LEGAL immigrants. It's the ILLEGAL ones that we're looking at here. And they're not just Latinos. There are illegals from every different race and culture. So, why are Latinos so much in arms about this? Guilty of something?

    May 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Navajo72

    Idiot white people, don't even get what's happening under your nose. First you took our land and put us on the reservations, and we suffer terribly. Alcoholism, drugs etc. Now we are getting back at you. We build casinos so you can spend your money and make us rich. In 100 years we will have the money to buy guns and bombs and rockets and planes, instead of bows and arrows. And then we will drive you out of Arizona and we will have our land back.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bigs

    big mistake Senor Sarver. I will never support your NBA franchise. What a slap in the face to people who actually OBEY the laws.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ???Questioning

    alan- I am a young white woman; honest with a college degree and I once was hard up for a job and went to the temporary labor place-they had no openings for me. I was willing to pick tomatoes but I could not... Immigration is awesome, but our country can only support so many people.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gary, Los Angeles

    Navajo72 . . . you're just as dumb as you were 400 years ago. It's the white people's money building and backing those "Indian Reservation" casinos. You couldn't build a proper teepee!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jds

    I remain astonished at how many people have formed opinions on SB1070, and, based on those opinions, either have not read it or choose to be much less than truthful about what it says (isn't that called "spin"?). It does not, repeat, does not, allow racial profiling. Simply read it to find out. And in many regards the law mirrors federal law. I don't hear anyone calling for repeal of those laws or striking out at the feds. Seems kinda' hypocritical.

    Re having to carry ID if you're a foreigner: Hey, hasn't that been federal law for more than fifty years. And Arizona dared reaffirm that law? Huh!? What am I missing?

    Re the Phoenix Suns, this week reborn as a political front organization: No more support from me. I'm amazed the league allows such crass politics on the court. Next stop: Nike, or Coke (which one?), Ford, or whatever on the jerssys and shorts. Sad day for the NBA, more so for the Suns.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Josh


    Boo hoo hoo you might have to show an id card that YOU SHOULD be proud of having.

    Its not about Legal Citizens you did your work and got here Legally. Its about the ones
    jumping the fences digging tunnels and whatever else to sneak into the country and tax our already failing economy even more by being scab labor not paying taxes and knocking up some dumb girl to get legal and then letting her live off the welfare system.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris CW

    I guess now Charles and the Suns will do a new taco bell commercial about illegal immigrants.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
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