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. riddler1

    Hoorah Arizona...for doing what the federal govenment has failed to do- ENFORCING IMMIGRATION LAWS!!!! If you are here illegally, then please exit our GREAT NATION- whether its in the direction of North,South,East or West!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. An American

    I didn't have time to go through the dozens of comments, but wanted to point out something indicative of how Americans are losing our country ... of the two current NBA players quoted in this article ... NOT ONE IS A U.S. CITIZEN! When are we, as a strong, INDEPENDENT nation going to stop letting outsiders how to run our country. I could care less what two foreigners think of Arizona's law; they are PRIVALEGED to work in this country, and are making millions of dollars from ticket sales primarily generated in the U.S.. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but following the first couple decades of our existence, there were series of federal laws, quotas, and procedures set in place to become nationalized. My family name was changed from "Andersen" at Staten Island four generations ago because there were too many men with that name on his boat, but at least my family member came into this country in a legal manner, was counted, and started paying taxes. Just like my great-grandfather, I'm proud to have this new family name, because it means that I am definitely a US CITIZEN. Changing the name of the "Suns" in support of ILLEGAL immigrants is a slap to my face and any other true AMERICAN that went through the process set forth by our government, and I hope that Texas, New Mexico, and California soon follows Arizona’s example.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. L

    It's really funny that years after taking their land, corrupting their governments, exploiting their free labor, we are the ones complaining about illegal immigration. I seems to me that if we would want to fix this problem, shouldn't we go after the companies that make a killing by hiring illegal immigrants, paying them lower wages and not covering insurances. We cannot do that though, that would mean gov't regulation, and we can't have that. That's socialist and it's evil, don't ask why, it just is. Just like illegal immigrants, don't ask or care why they come here, just get them out. No matter how bad the economy in their countries is, or how corrupt their gov' is, or how violent their principal means of revenue have become due to flawed legislation on our part (drugs for those not paying attention). Get them out and boycott the Suns. Yes, because that is the problem, a sports team dealing with politics, we can't have that. Only business men and religious fanatics are allowed to meddle in politics. That's the way our forefathers would have wanted it, the way of Jesus of Nazareth.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    Gzzz people wake up.. The law is wrong BECAUSE it targets citizens.. It should be targeted on the companies that hire them.. But that wont happen, frikin HYPOCRATS!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Disappointed

    Hell, why stop with the jerseys, why not have the National Anthem sung in Spanish also. Or better yet, have the Mexican National Anthem sang?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. slpa1

    I'll bet you that none of the NBA players are in the country illegally, or that the NBA would allow them to play if they were.

    The owner of the Phoenix Suns is out of line.

    Go San Antonio!


    Former Suns Fan

    May 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lea

    Achtung dark-colored skin person !!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. oscar m


    I'm mexican-american, and going to school for an engineering degree. As a matter of fact, about 60% of my classmates are latino, and most of the white people are pot-heads. As a matter of fact, most of the white classmates I've had in ANY class were pot-heads. don't blame your failures on Mexicans. Control your pot-head white kids and the Mexican cartels will go out of business. No more shot ranchers, understand? Stop demanding $30/hr to assemble cars in detroit, and cheap labor will stop flowing into this country, do you understand? You have the audacity to call mexicans lazy, but you want high pay, vacation, and sick time for jobs that require no skills.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Smoothoperator

    Just vote with your dollars, and see how they will feel if 70% of their revenue goes up in smoke.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jack

    To Humanist:

    "in-bred ignorant cop"?!? You are obviously referring to a WHITE police officer. You, sir, are a racist! HEY EVERYBODY, THIS GUY IS A RACIST, LOOK!!!!

    Oh wait, I forgot. Stereotypes against white people isn't racism. It's "justified"...isn't that right?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    I always find it amusing what Charles Barkley's microbrain will dredge up next in the way of political commentary.

    But then, basketball players aren't generally known for their high IQs.

    Naturally, the NBA is against immigration checks. Their foreign players were fast-tracked to come here legally because they could play ball!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. greedyma

    It's a shame that no one is thinking of a solution or option to making those that are legit illegals to becoming citizens such as offering them all the necessary credentials to be able to stay as oppose to just saying put up or get out. If that's the case all of us immigrants should just get our paper and leave the land to the indians and their descendants.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JC

    I have no problem with immigrants, but I do agree that we need to do something about the number of people entering the country illegally. My mom and her family moved here from Europe 40 years ago. They did it LEGALLY. Her cousins tried for like 20 years to come, too, but haven't been allowed because of the number of immigrants they want to allow in from elsewhere, plus the number of people coming in illegally (according to my grandma). I have many hispanic friends (some who moved here as children or whose family came years before) that actually are FOR laws against people here illegally! With what's going on in Mexico with all the crime, I'm GLAD, for once, that the country (or in this case, AZ) is trying to protect it's own citizens! I don't care if you're from Central America, Europe, Asia, where ever–coming here illegally is breaking the law. I do think we need to work on immigration in general though...I find it sad that my cousin, who (back in the day) had a job lined up, was going to attend college, etc couldn't come here, even though he would have been a hard-working, wonderful addition to our country (though I guess I'm biased 🙂 )

    May 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dont watch dumb nba

    A couple more teams i will not watch and make sure I do NOT buy anything endorsed by any of their players

    May 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. daninLA

    If you want to find out just how bad we're getting as a country and a people (partisanship). Read on.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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