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. Andre

    The Suns should really put their money where their mouths are and announce they are permanently changing the name to LOS SOLES and see where that takes them.

    Let illegals buy season seats and corporate suites and pay for advertising spaces. Good luck, I would never support that silly team ever after this. Arizona fans should extricate themselves from this sorry organization that clearly doesn't care about the USA and it's laws and infrastructure. Show them Arizona!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ?????

    If I play basketball for a city league team and I sneak onto the court while Das Suns are playing does that mean I am now a part of the team and I get to stay and play and enjoy all the benfits that go with it?

    If I attend a junior college and I sneak onto the Harvard campass do I now get to attend Harvard?

    May 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. snob

    this is a polictial issue and should be treated that way. the suns should acknowledge that. the illegals need to leave and go back. this is a merica not america of mexico.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. miken

    I will never watch their games – advertisers take note. Americans support LEGAL immigration nothing less. Maybe Sarver should move his team to san francisco.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Wouldn't need this law if the world wasn't filled with criminals.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Guest124

    I WAS A Phoenix SUNs fun.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeri

    @Phillip... you sound rediculous. freedom of speech and opinion get it!

    May 5, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. F_ all_racist

    If you really think that you should create your own law, then just create your own country. Arizona should just pass a law that makes them NOT a state of the US and just create their own country and their own law. And if you don't want to me near Mexico then I believed you should move you Arizona to the Atlantic.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mary

    Get rid of illegals period.

    boycott NBA period.

    celebrate hispanic day?? for what?? adventures in gardening??

    this is AMERICA...celebrate AMERICA DAY for pete's sake


    May 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Robert Aguilar

    So they suck at basketball and only make "playoffs" occasionally because of a weak division... imagine they'd do this just as a media stunt! The NBA now goes on the boycott list for being racist.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. upperdeck

    At every game, I have to show my papers everytime I walk down an aisle in the lower deck. Do they look at me and think he can't afford seats near the court? No...they want to make sure I belong there. I show them my ticket and they show me my seat. Same goes for this ticket, no seat.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RON

    Sign I saw today...."Illegal immigration is destroying America–look at what it did to the WHITE HOUSE !"

    May 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. roman

    i am shocked by the number of people that just assume that hispanic means illegal immigrant. i am of hispanic descent.. i am an american born citizen. my parents are american born citizens... so are my grandparents... great-grandparents... great-great grandparents... only because my skin is dark and my features are hispanic it doesn't mean that i'm any less of an american than the white hillbilly from the mid-west. white doesn't mean american. all americans are descentants of immigrants – with the exception of american indians. and anyone who doesn't think so is ignorant.

    my only problem with the law in arizona is that because i look hispanic i would be stopped and asked to prove my status as an american. why not stop the white person as well.

    i'm all for the suns changing their names for today (which is a mexican holiday). go suns!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pedro_anonimo

    There is already a U.S. of America day. It's called the 4th of July.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chuckis

    Well I support the move of the Los Suns to Mexico City. If they support ignoring the law and embrace that flout Federal law, steal peoples IDs and practice racism. Then I support their move to Mexico and will no longer support the Suns ever again. They are free to take a stand as they see fit, so can the fans!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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