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. plopsdad


    If illegal immigrants were not in the coutry to begin with, they would be able to be hired

    May 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. geoffl

    I am shocked at how many commenters ridicule a courageous team owner and diminish the comments of the players. This is a meaningul statement made by Los Suns and especially on a meaningful day. Again, the biases and prejudices of so many people emerge during these discussions. I am not a Sun fan but will certainly be rooting for them.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tlarose

    “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,”

    I'm confused? Wasn't it possible for the illegal aliens to be legal BEFORE they suck across the boarder?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    The big deal "crazy" not all hispanics are here illegally, I am a 4th generation American with Mexican descent. I have dark hair, brown skin, and brown eyes. If I go to Arizona I may get pulled over just because I fit the description of an illegal. That right there is the BIG issue!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. InDisbelief

    They messed up on their jerseys. Its suppose to say Suns LOS T , That is the outcome when they meet the LAKERS!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Terry H

    Once again, a sporting event is not the venue for political or moral opinions to be expressed!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Thanks

    White people go back to Europe. America belongs to the Indian Natives. Which include Mexicans. Me saying this does not change anything. In the U.S.A. The hispanics is the fastest growing population so little by little we will be taking back our continent.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gus

    Has anyone bothered to read the entire new law. I don't find anything offensive or prejudicial in it. It does not give sweeping powers to profile or collect info on anyone who might be illegal in the state. Maybe people should read it for themselves instead of letting special interest groups interpret what they think it means. If illegals want to be legal than get your paperwork in order with Immigration so that you can do things the legal way.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    "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,” "

    That's great. How many of those 400 players from 36 countries are here illegally? Right. Americans have little issue with legal citizens it is those that are here illegally that are at the heart of the issue.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SunsFanSince1968

    Boycott the NBA – ludicrous!! Just because of an Arizona illegal immigration debate.
    I love basketball – following the Lakers-Jazz series closely.
    Pau Gasol is from Spain, and he's a great center. He is in this country legally.
    I can not believe the stupidity of some people. You guys would think Carlos Boozer is an alcholoic simply because of his last name. Grow up.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. oscar m

    Texas Born,

    You're a dying breed. like it or not, in a few decades, you will be the minority in this country, not because current minorities will over-breed, but because it's natural selection. when races mix, you get stronger, healthier offspring. You know what? I just have a thing for white chicks (I'm not white). you know what else? I can only seem to attract white chicks. It's strange, but I'm not complaining. One day your granddaughter or great granddaughter will get together with a mexican or black guy. How do you feel about that?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. no personal agendas please

    Sad that NBA and David Stern have entered the political rhetoric arena instead of focusing on basketball. Maybe a lot of illegals attend games and purchase team gear? Business rule #1, never alienate your paying clientele (eg season ticket holders). I WAS a Phoenix Suns fan.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Terry Hensley

    It's appalling to see anyone support the attempted foreign occupation and takeover of the United States. The absurd has become acceptable. Every state in the union should be making a full court press to save Arizona, still considered part of our United States. Maybe rich sports figures can insulate themselves in nice neighborhoods, but in my area everything has to be locked down or it's gone. There were 4 adult hispanics in my yard Sunday taking the peaches off my tree. When they saw me, they just smiled. Four againist one is bad odds, and they know where I live, so I smiled back and went back inside my house. These people have no interest in the American Dream. They are trying to turn our country into Mexico and it's happening now. It's incredible.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    This is so sad to see the greates nation on Earth fighting over an issue about people who just want a better life, just like all "white anglo Americans'" ancestors wanted. We should all be more concerned about terrorists, they are the REAL threat!!! But it is so easy for them to get a passaport and visa, either student or work, they come here legally and bomb the heLL out of us.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patrick

    Hmmmm...this is about as influential & will have as much effect as Rosie O'Donnell or Barbara Streisand telling me who to vote for in 2010 or 2012...idiots...this is what happens when you pay people too much for what they do & makes them think they're more important than the average citizen in AZ. I'll say what I always state about this matter – read the law before protesting it...What part of ILLEGAL aren't you understanding?

    May 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
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