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. Paul

    I come from an immigrant dad so I am pretty much one generation away from immigration. The thing that irks me about all this is the ILLEGAL aspect. I have been called a racist because I don't want illegals here. It has nothing to do with race. I don't care if your a Russian, Mexican, Chinese, white or black are still illegal. It's insulting to the people that came here legally to make demands to stay. I am also shocked by the people on this thread correcting Los Suns to Los Soles. It just shows how disgustingly pushy and arrogant the illegal Mexicans really are. In fact, the only illegals I see protesting are the Mexicans. Leave the country and come back legally. I don't want to learn Spanish and as an American I don't have to.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    Republicans make me laugh! They want to get rid of the illegal’s but they love to employ them!! Hypocrites!!! Why should Hispanics or anyone that has been a citizen in this country 3 to 5 generations have to show id!!! Ridiculous!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. pattyod

    QUESTION: Does anyone care about the NBA? I have not seen a game since Dr. J retired and Sir Chuck came to town to disgress Philly. (And that is hard to do)

    May 5, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. caw

    I wonder what Jack Bauer would do?

    Keep politics out of sports.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Meaghan

    No, Chris, they're not getting paid to wave their beliefs under everyone's noses, but they are allowed to speak their minds, show support for whatever causees they want- and take responsibility for those actions. If it really bothers you so that they're bringing politics into the game, just don't watch the game.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. LA

    Complete Ignorance and lack of respect of the Spanish language
    GO L.A. LAGOS !!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. ann

    Paul, the vast majority of Americans know you are right. And don't worry too much. These people are digging their own graves. The tide will most definitely turn.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. TMS

    Brazil is a Latin country, not Hispanic.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. joe

    Brazilians aren't even latino. If anything, this "stance" is likely offending the Brazilian player.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Megan

    @Mike.....what???? I am as white as they come, born and raised in the United States. How does my comment make me racist? I never said I was of a Hispanic origin, nor did I say I went to Spain. My comment was intended to show people that the true issue has nothing to do with the translation of the name. To call me racist and tell me that I slander whites is entirely uncalled for. Read the comment, don't read into it. The issue here is the bill in Arizona.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Liberals make me laugh! They throw around generalizations about anyone that does not agree with them.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. Emma

    It's funny that all that will be accosted by the officials and required to show proof of residency will be those of dark skin color. I am a white female immigrant from England and have been a citizen for the last 37 years (I'm 38), and I will never be one of the ones detained. Talk about racial profiling at it's finest!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. gospurs

    The police need to arrest steven nash during the game. Although he is here illegally, he wont have his papers on him, WHICH IS NOW ILLEGAL.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. ladyde

    Everybody is upset with the illegals that are just trying to make a living doing the jobs americans wont do. But I dont ever hear of the people hiring illegal's, which is against the law to do so. We all know what that is about.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. fudgeantiimmagrationlawz

    i'm so glad the NBA supports us (latino)people. :>

    May 5, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
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