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. Rock God

    Well, I wasn't happy Los Suns beat the Blazers, but this is pretty cool for an NBA team. I will support the Suns from now on. Someone needs to show the Arizona law for what it is – racist. It was written by known racists! Do you think the law's supporters care about illegal Russians or Ukranians? Go Suns!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Biggums Biscuits

    It's Sols. And if you're going to make a comment it is redundant to say you are going to make a comment. You need to take a writing class and an Espanol clase.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lawrence Rina

    Hey Curt, do you remember your first job?
    My kids can't, because they have never been able to get one!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Display the team name in Spanish? In support of illegal immigrants? Time for a boycott.

    Most AMERICANS support SB1070. Nearly 2/3s of Arizona CITIZENS do too.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Guest124

    So what does David Stern have to say about thiss ?? I thought American pro atheletes weren't suppose to show bias on American social issues ? This is very unprofessional of the Phoenix Suns Organization.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Anon

    I am boycotting the Suns because of this. No more of my dollars to those who support criminals!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Manuel Gonzalez

    History tends to repeat itself.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lea


    May 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cherin

    Immigration is not a right it is a privilege given to individuals who follow a lengthy legal process overseen by the Federal government. I am a legal immigrant and I find it both offensive and degrading that anyone would compare a person me to a person that knowingly violates immigration law and subsequently demands to receive rights and protections from the country whose laws they have just violated. This posting, by the way, is not a 3rd grade level comment. What is 3rd grade is comparing this to communisim and Hitler's Germany. These comments only inflame and take away from the issue that millions of people have broken the law but do not want to face any consequences.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GirlNextDoor

    Would be so easy to solve this, once and for all. Instead of going after the illegal worker who works for 5-6$ an hour, let's go after the businesses who hire them! But noooo, because then they would have to chase the full-bloom, US-born US-citizens who make the big bucks! And they are such huge patriots! They surely have a huge American flag on their front yard! They can't be the bad guys!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. leah

    How is spewing hate

    May 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 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 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ed

    Boycott the boring basketball playoffs!
    They can express their opinion and we can express our opinion by telling them to get lost.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joao

    To all the ignorants that insist that Brazil is not a Hispanic country, Brazil was colonized by Portugal which is located in the Hispanic peninsula.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Daniel

    Check all Americans not only latinos, Arizona. Go all the way this is America be fair

    May 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
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