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. Linda

    What part of "illegal" do people not recognize. Breaking the laws of the US is "breaking the laws of the US. What is wrong with making immigrants come in our country LEGALLY? Other countries make us come into their countries legally. The mind set of this country is disgusting.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MAY

    right on humanist. lets just see all these "americans" doing labor work. ha , ha ha, ha, give me a break. really, just stick to smoking pot. you all are so good at it. obviously you gys are a bunch of racist white people. GOOD DAY.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bruce

    This is bullsh.. You're in America not Mexico or any other country. Why not do it in Arabic, French or Russian? Respect this country. Don't like our ways get the hell out. We should be speaking your language you should be speaking ours. I am really tired of us or me having to adapt to your way of life. You came here because this is the best country in the world but you don't like it when you have to obey by our laws. Why did you come? You like it to be the way it was in you country? Why did you leave then? GO BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ChrisSeattle

    What is the point? It is time we seperate illegal from race. Simpley because most American don't favor illegal immigration or rewarding illegal immigrants doesn't mean they are anti-hispanic. I have lived in a predominantly hispanic community most of my life and most of my hispanic friends oppose illegal immigration. Illegal does not equal race.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anthony

    @ Jon, - No one care about your 2 cents as well....and Good for Sarver protecting his investment..(SUNS) a Lakers Fan but will root for the Suns.. All the prejudice that you all have will bite you in the ass... Come get Some....

    May 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Texas Born

    Oscar – First of all, I have 3 boys, and if either of them brought how a mexican, latino, hispanic or whatever you want to call yourselves these days, I would probably have to kill them or myself because that WILL NOT happen. I have no problem with the blacks; they don't seem to come in droves over the borders illegally, killing farmers who had been helping them. Your people are stupid and worthless! And when whites mix with hispanics, you get nothing but FILTH! Someone should have castrated you at birth and saved us all a lot of trouble. I'll take my "dying breed" and know they will stand behind me as AMERICANS and speak ENGLISH before I'd helped one of your low-life, welfare living pieces of SH**!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zuloo

    I will never never buy the Sun season ticket again. We should deport Steve Nash to Mexico and live with the Kartel DRUG DEALER. I think he is suit for it. What a MORON.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Navajo72

    If they are truly illegal players, the Suns can mow the grass in front of the Mexican presidential white house after thier game tonight.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dennis

    I have an idea "Shutup and play basketball." Noone cares what your political views are.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. janek

    If Arizona did it then other states can do it too.

    We already have the White House trying to force Socialized medicine on us.

    So what is next papers for everyone like in Russia and China.

    Then register and report when and where you want to travel within or between states????

    Come on people wake up.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. K.D.

    And to the supporters of this law... please get a clue.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. K.D.

    God bless the Suns owner, players, and other fighting against the unjust Az. law.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. disisme

    @El Texas: You're just hurt bc Spurs took Mavs and NO-WIN-ski down, too bad so sad.... Keep licking your wounds pal, i'm sure they will heal someday...

    May 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    I wonder how many of the team members agree with the law.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gary

    How many illegals buy Box Seats?

    May 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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