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. lori

    Its hateful how so many white Americans react to reality and ethnic folks standing up for their rights..ya know what we dont need your sort anyplace ever
    ! And I am white..

    May 5, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LaLaLolly

    All the attention and publicity for those protesting the AZ law, which actually only reiterates the federal immigration law, yet practically every poll demonstrates the majority of Americans support the AZ law. It is time the media hears and pays attention to what the majority wants: secure borders ans strict enforcement of immigration laws. June 14 (Flag Day), pro-AZ rallies across the country: FLAG DAY – STAND UP FOR THE U.S.A.!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sam marguccio

    There's a marketing angle here. Los Suns Jerseys will be on sale soon!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. New Sun

    I never watched the NBA but now I would be watching all the Suns game and rooting for them . GO SUNS

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

    Back to the real topic:

    To all those fools that want us to believe that "your not going to support the Suns anymore"...
    Not that you ever did to begin with, true fans don't get their feather ruffled over a team wanting to celebrate 5 de Mayo

    I can name countless more athletes who have committed real CRIMES and trust me people still watch.

    I bet anything the US Airways Center will be filled to capacity!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SunsFanSince1968

    If you saw a group of Hispanic people on the court level seats, maybe rows 1 and 2, and you know they paid $1000 for those seats, would you question if they were illegal?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Giants Fan

    I'm a huge basketball fan, but this action taken by the Suns is a joke. Keep the politics out of sport please. I hope the fans in Phoenix boycott this game to send a real message to management.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    I don't see how changing the name on the jersey has anything to do with protesting the new immigration law. There is no connection.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. oscar m

    Sure, I read the law. Doesn't make it any more justified. I'll give you an example: I'm mexican-american, born in this country. My wife is white. So one evening I'm driving around my wife's neighborhood, going to her parent's house, I missed a turn and had to make a u-turn (a legal u-turn). All of a sudden I get pulled over by a cop. I present my I.D., registration, and insurance. I asked him what the problem was, and he said I cant have an air freshener tree thing hanging on my rear-view mirror. Can you believe that crap? I see white people driving around without front license plates in CA and get away with it all the time. my car was bone stock, 2 years old, no broken taillgihts. How many racist redneck cops in Arizona are gonna use the stupidest reasons to pull over every hispanic-looking driver? So hispanics have to do 65mph on the freeway now, while white people do 80mph like they usually do?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Manuel Gonzalez

    It seems to me that there is a lot of haters out there that dislike even legalLatino citizens. Get over it! Is it because we know two languages and you don't? Who is the ignorant one now Pancho? Learn Spanish and then you might be as smart as Latinos!!! Stop being jealous.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ken in San Antonio

    So the Suns support diversity. Great, we all do. But how does supporting the presencee of illegal immigrants translate to supporting diversity? What about all the people from Africa, Asia and Europe who couldn't just crose a river or jump a wall - illegally. They are waiting in line to properly emigrate to the U.S. in accordance with our laws. Why are we more intent on supporting the illegals? Sounds a lot like bias to me.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thanks

    Thanks sun's for your support. "An unjust law is no law at all",

    May 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ali

    Since the Suns apparently think that borders don't matter, rather than boycotting the game, how about SNEAKING IN and when challenged, point out the hypocrisy of the team's position.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Law Fan


    I agree with this guy. And for everyone that's against our laws you should really take a look at other countries and how they do things before you open your mouth. And once again it's not racism, it's a freakin law for all ILLEGALS!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ali

    It seems to me that there is a lot of haters out there that dislike even legalLatino citizens. Get over it! Is it because we know two languages and you don't? Who is the ignorant one now Pancho? Learn Spanish and then you might be as smart as Latinos!!! Stop being jealous.
    My Mexican-Amreican nephews and niece don't speak any language but English. Nor are they particularly smart. None has gone farther than high school, and the only reason my niece isn't a welfare mother is because she had the great good sense to get pregnant by a NON Hispanic guy who was willing to marry her.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
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