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. badq

    If the federal government did their job, the states would not have to do it for them. The laws already exist, they just have to be enforced. Good going Arizona.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gcarlos

    Did the American Indians require the white folk show their papers when they came here illegally. It's never too late!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. greedyma

    To Jack:

    You are obviously pointing out white police officers as the culprits for racial profiling because not once did the humanist mention a color of the cop. He did say inbred but no color. Ignorance comes in all shapes and sizes so stereotyping the white race is unacceptable also. Maybe you want to broaden your scope of thinking so that you see that all cops no matter color can be guilty of racial profiling which is what the humanist was saying. Unfortunately we live in a world that has not yet put away racism on all fronts so be mindful of that when your rationalizing your thoughts and expressing your feelings.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SunsFanSince1968

    I love Indians. I love their casinos. Easier to drive 15 minutes to an Indian casino than to make the 5 hour drive to Las Vegas.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ron

    “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,”

    Well said Charles!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jon

    60% are in favor of the immigration. I hope they boycott the Suns. Stick to basketball, no one cares about your 2 cents.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bruce

    Honestly this has got to be one of dumbist things I've ever seen. Where in the world is it fine to go into another country without permission and proper paperwork? It's not even legal in the USA. I just don't get it, We have had border patrol check points setup with California for years, you realize people do get checked at times right folks? I live by the border, I would go into Mexico for work at times, they have check points not on the boarder with military at them, I always had my passport for them. What is the big deal here?

    I'm tired of folks making an issue out of nothing.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elvis

    The right way to pronunce this would be "EL SOL". Because they are stating that they are the PHEONIX SUNS. So they are SUN"S only. So it would be pronunced the way I said it.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BRYCE

    Guess there's no low to the suns owners and magement to fill there pockets. SPORTS AND POLITICS DONT MIX. SHAME on the SUNS FOR PLAYING ALONG WITH THIS !!!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Navajo72

    Yes, white man, show me your papers. Lots and lots and lots and lots of green papers, with pictures of your presidents on them.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    Due to new AZ Law anyone attempting to have or go to a Cinco de Mayo party must have their passport, driver's license, birth certificate, immunization records, high school diploma, 8th grade report card, proof they attended kindergarten, and a notarized statement from their babysitter (prior to 3 years old) stating they are in the country legally. You will then be aloud to take the lie detector test. Failure to provide any of these of failing the test will result in pink undies and green balogna.

    GO SUNS!

    May 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. James - Enid, OK

    Bad call by the Suns, but why is this a big deal? Its not a new or original idea. The Lakers have had LOS ANGELES on their jerseys for 50 years now. But still, there is a huge problem with illegal immagrants and its nice to see a state finally do somethig about it. Whether its the right thing or not is debatable.

    May 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Josh


    May 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Tam

    They can stay if they provide free lawn service.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gcarlos


    Europeans did it-Dahhhhhh. Waht's good for the goose is good for the pollo loco!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
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