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. gil

    Yes, I agree, none of the Suns or other multi-millionaires have to worry about crime, Most politicians who make the laws don't have to worry about it either, but the general citizens of Arizona do.

    And by the way, ILLEGAL is not a skin color, it's a crime!!! I think we should all carry
    citizenship papers. I, for one, would be happy to. That way, we get rid of all the fuss over racial profiling.

    I want all the illegals to start scrambling and think twice about coming into the country. If they can't regard our laws coming in, why would they regard them while here? I think the only reason for sneaking in is you're already a criminal.

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

    The average NBA player has a rap sheet a mile long. It's no surprise that they are in full support of drug violence on the border.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dumb

    Spurs wore jerseys this season that said Los Spurs...boycott both teams!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nba Fan

    Graet call Suns and the entire league. The NBA is against right wing extremism and I am proud to be a fan.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SunsFanSince1968

    When the Suns (finally) win the NBA Championship this year, those "Los Suns" jerseys will sell like hotcakes online.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Real World Soldier

    Classy move by a classy organizations. Now if we can just get all these backward rednecks to take note. Its amazing the response of millions across this great country standing up against hate in America. Im loving every minute of it and proud to be an American. Go Los Suns.......

    May 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J.

    Ali seems to be just as bad as any neo nazi or kkk member in reverse.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Humanist

    The comments on this board I find hilarious for so many reasons. I assume most of you hold your right to free speach very dear. Well like someone else said just because someone has a larger platform doesnt mean they forfit their right to free speach. I love that the suns are doing this. I myself am half hispanic my father is a light skinned hispanic and my mom is as white as they come. My niece is 3/4 hispanic her dad was a dark skinned hispanic and my sister like me looks more like white person than an half hispanic. My niece is brown but in a full legal citizen of this country, but this new law will allow for an inbred ignorant cop to pull her over and hassel her because of the color of her skin. Lets face it, it doesnt take much to be a cop in this country and plenty of racist idiots make onto the force. This law gives way to much power to cops and puts this country on a dangerous slipperly slope. The majority of comments on this board reek of hate and I can only hope that one day the hate you put in this world is dumped back on you with the force of catagory 5 hurricane.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chad

    To the very first poster, its Los Sols not Soles lol

    May 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rahman Noodle

    Very well done on their part 🙂

    May 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Real World Soldier

    These are going to be the hottest selling Jerseys in America. What a smart move. Thats why he is the owner and all you haters out their are just peasants trying to get a nut... Go Los Sunssssss

    May 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. leah

    thank god that the minority are mainty black and latino .we are not going to be stepped by the white man any longer . its tooooo LATE FOR THEM TO STOP THE LATONO AMERICAN POWER

    May 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. J.

    Humanist? "Free speech" only exists for liberals these days. Everyone else is called a "tea-bagging. redneck racist" by people like you whether they are or not. Hello? THAT'S HATE. We're all guilty of it- especially online. In the streets? Not so much. Someday soon we're all going to find out like Greece has.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Truman

    I will not be watching NBA very much any more. You guys make your choices and I will make mine. Goodbye.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. itsnotaboutU

    Wonder how many of you or the Suns players have lived in a border town? You would support this law if you did. How hard is it to show proof you are a legal? EVERY OTHER country in the world requires you to show proof you are in their country legally. GET OVER IT! IF YOU DON"T LIKE IT LEAVE!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
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