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 NBA.com 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 NBA.com.

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. Flex Chokewell

    The team-name stunt brings attention to an issue that is important to many Arizonans and many other Americans.
    Maybe if the TeaParty advocates want to attract attention to their cause, they can refer to themselves as "Los Retards," or "Los Retardos," whichever suits their exploitative leaders on the particular day they use the term.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    What you expect from a state that voted against MLK day as a holiday. White bread state!
    Then the NFL moved its Superbowl site from Phoenix to Pasadena. Glad I dont live in a racist state!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Hopalong

    Steve Nash, a citizen of Canada probalby has a valid work permit issued by ICE that allows him to 'work" for the Phoenix Suns. Why then, doe he not feel that Illegals in AZ should go have to go throuth the same process of securing work permits? This is not a racial profiling problem. It is only the state of Arizona trying to enforce those laws that the Feds choose no to.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. new jersey latino

    The biggest blame should go on all these businesses who hire illegals! If there werent any jobs being offered most wouldnt come here! People who have such problems with iilegals should protest in front of restaraunts or hotels or farms where a lot of illegals get illegal employment! Also, if your against illegal immigration dont try to get good quality but inexpensive work from a landscaping or construction company that obviously employs illegals! Dont be a hypocrite and just go after the illegals! Go after the small businesses and large ones as well like farming that continue to violate the law by hirring illegals! Dont use services from illegals to try and save a penny. Fines for businesses who employ Latinos should be enforced and penalties should be great! Then we would see a dramatic decrease in illegal immigration! Dont just blame illegals blame business owners and consumers who knowingly buy thier products and services!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kristina

    reading this I am sitting here wondering how conflicted my brother is right now lol. He is a HUGE Phoenix Suns fan, but he is also a big Arizona's new law fan...he also has tickets to tonights game...lol!!!!!

    But in regards to what the Los Suns are doing I think it is their right as Americans to voice their opinions...it's called Freedom of speech you can't just take it away when you don't agree with it!

    I also wonder how people feel about the number of people not from this country that are playing in the NBA? Want them to go home too?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. JPG

    This is about ILLEGAL aliens, not Spanish people in general. It's about damn time somebody did something. GO ARIZONA!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. S7aS

    Technically Spanglish, not Spanish. But still a nice gesture.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    @Meaghan
    You can be certain that I won't watch the game. I was using MY right to free speech to encourage others to do the same. I am also disappointed that they've made a mockery of the game by bringing politics into it. Everyone knows that politics and religion are sensitive issues, and sports should be something you can watch to get away from all the debate.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. nvsblwmn

    Illegal immigrations is illegal. What I don't get is why the law doesn't target employers that hire illegal immigrants. If there were no jobs for illegals they would be less likely to cross the border to begin with. If I'm a passenger in a car I hardly ever carry my drivers license much less passport or birth certificate.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. miamisun

    I agree boycott the Suns! the fact that they did this makes me never want to see them play again. I wonder what Public relations guy dreamed up this stunt and will be responsible for the repercussions of an empty stadium.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. gospurs

    The police need to arrest steven nash during the game. Although he is here LEGALLY, he wont have his papers on him, WHICH IS NOW ILLEGAL.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Janice

    Guys, why not stay out of politics and just play basketball? If you feel so strongly about supporting illegal's why don't you take some of them into your homes and pay all of their bills so we don't have to? Oh, maybe you already do and you just don't want to lose your cheap illegal labor, i.e. gardeners, maids, nannies, drivers, etc.! Or, do you just support the drug trafficker's/murders who seem to be given free access to our country?

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE WHO WON'T SUPPORT OUR LAWS?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Thomas from Reno

    I know it's not easy for the immigrants who live here illegally – but they chose to take the risk and we do not have to discard our laws in order to satisfy them. If I lived in Arizona, I would not be attending any Suns games. In fact, I will not watch them on TV because I'm an American and I have to support American laws.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. Linda

    Thats right, people up here hire Mexicans because you short sell and sell us out. Another slime ball tactic. Then you cry Poooors Us, we just do the lowly jobs you Americans don't want to do.
    Poooor Us. We didn't invite you here to do any job. So shut up and go home and fix your own country. Keep crying pooooor us, you just look more stupid.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Meaghan

    why are people not seeing the issue here? The problem isn't that illegal persons are going to be 'dealt with', the problem is that everyone who looks like they might be fresh off the boat is going to be stopped and interogated by police. 'Well, if they're legal, what's the issue?' The issue is racial profiling and harrassment. Tell me, just how many Caucasians to you think are going to be bothered by this law? A far fewer number than people of Hispanic origins.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
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