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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soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. Kristina

    Just bought tickets to see the Suns play in support of their views. I'm not originally from AZ but have lived here for 5 years. I'm a caucasion woman, a Christian, a business owner, a mom and a United States Marine Corp veteran. This law appalls me and I am in support of all who oppose. This law will not stop the real issue (such as border control and drug smuggling). It wil punish people who have done nothing but try to seek a better life for their children. Anyone who can not say they wouldn't do the same obviously is out of touch with reality....We are all Gods children, He doesn't care what side of ANY border you were born on.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AL


    May 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Opinion

    As an avid NB fan and a Neilson participant... I will NOT watch this game!! Maybe none of the NBA games. If you're against enforcement of federal laws that have existed for decades...I want no part of your product!!

    Thank you Arizona for doing SOMETHING!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Texas Born

    If you aren't here illegally, then why should you care if you get pulled over and asked for proof that you are here legally, no matter what color, race, gender, etc. you are. You should have nothing to hide if you are doing nothing wrong. If you don't like what the Governor of AZ has done, then leave and go to a whole different country, like Mexico. And Manuel, you can take your two languange speaking self straight to Mexico, too. This is AMERICA, and we speak ENGLISH. You don't like it, then go somewhere else...WE DON'T WANT YOU. Yes, I'm a hater, of worthless, low-life, free-loading wetbacks that call themselves Latino, or Spanish or Mexican or any other garbarge. That's what you all are...GARBAGE! And as for the Suns...take your political statements and shove're a PROFESSIONAL team...act like it and keep politics out of basketball! I hope you get beat down every game! Thank goodness we won the battle of the Alamo! Unfortunately, we have to keep fighting to keep all the crap from Mexico out, still!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tcaros

    Los Soles De Mayo

    May 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. janek

    The Native American Indians really did have sole claim and ownership to this land.

    Then the Mexican’s came and took a some of the land from them.

    The early setlers put the Native Indians on a reservation and killed and chased the Mexicans off.

    So who are really the illegal’s here

    May 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kate

    You have got to be kidding me!! When will people get what this new immigration law is about? Illegal is not a race!! Illegal mean unlawful. This law is not just for all the Mexican illegals in Arizona, it's for ALL illegal immigrants no matter what nationality they are. I am glad the Suns supprot all the latino NBA players. I do too as long as they are legal.. Would they support team players if they were here illegally? I will never support the Suns again! I will support the team that is proud to wear their name in english. After all, this is the USA where our language is english.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kara

    I think it is stupid. This is AMERICA... not Mexico... speak ENGLISH people!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pedro_anonimo

    Are you saying all Arizona police are of the Gomar Pyle type from Andy Griffith? Or the Smokey and the Bandit type? There are bad policemen everywhere. Even in Mexico (especially in Mexico)

    May 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tcaros

    Papers, we don't need no stinkin papers.

    Tell Bush to stuff the papers.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. InDisbelief

    How come they are a Poster Board to the world, But if you went to the stadium and held up a Poster Board that stated something political that was mean, They would not let you bring the sign in the stadium. But if it seemed ok they would let you bring it in, wheres freedom of speech?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tcaros

    In Mexico, the police would take a bribe for some fake papers.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mike smith

    I'd like to pose a question...your in your big house with the large yard and pool house in the back, 3 families decide to jump your fence and move into the pool house...not only that, the wife's are pregnant and each has a kid and expect you to pay for the food, clothes and education for the kids...would you do it? can you afford it? would you give your children less to support these other families that trespassed on your property?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Thanks

    Mexican's are native americans. You don't know history. The indians that went to mexico city where from north america what is now the usa. Mexicans or native americans have been moving arount this continent for centuries, and they are the same race.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. parker

    I lived in Mexico 14 months. I am blond and blue. I had to show my passport three times to the Federales to prove I was there legally. I had no problem with that, even though they were "racial profiling". I was there legally and it took all of about 2 minutes each time. So what is the big deal. By the way, why is 'racial profiling' so wrong? The option of course is that the Hispanics who are the ones making all the noise, could wear burkas to hide whatever it is they don't want law enforcement to see. Every country I have been to has some form of national I.D. or requirement to prove you are there legally. Grow up people.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
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