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. Brad

    Fine, hispaincs want to boycot us to get their way, we should boycot all spanish goods and show them what a majority realy is. Bottom line, illigals have no voice in America, and it should remain that way. What America does is no concern of any illegal, doesn't matter where they from or what color they are, illigal, is non-american period. I have no problem with imigrants, but it has to be orderly or jobs will not keep up, tax funds will not keep up, nothing will be able to keep up with the influx. It's not racist, it's called common since. We did not work hard to make this country what it is for them, we did it for ourselves, therefore, we get first and highest priority, illigals, have no priority, voice, or right anywhere in this country, period. If they are such hard workers, why don't they work hard to fix their own country instead of ruining ours.

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

    I say let all the Mexicans and Cubans come here at will and work freely. Many of them are just trying to make money to feed their families. Who cares if its illegal or not.

    While we're at it, let also release all of our U.S.BORN inmates in jail for breaking the law too. Many of them probably were doing something illegal too in order to feed their families. Why are we sympathetic to Pedro and Jorge for breaking the law crossing the border illegally, and yet want Tyrone and Lamar locked up for selling a little weed illegally?

    May 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cheryl

    The mayor of Los Angeles made a comment that people in this country who are not legal residents pay taxes,what taxes, not federal or state taxes. You need a Social Security card with a valid number issued by SS Dept. My son worked for a very large corporation in Arizona and it was common knowledge when W-2's are sent out, some workers just threw them in the trash, guess who? With the computer age we now have, why is this not red flagged from IRS to the businesses and employers not questioned for verification. I guess it would require the federal government to follow through and get it correct.Therefore the states have to do the job, pick up the slack. No matter what political party we represent, we are supposed to be the UNITED states of America. I live in Arizona here for 30 years, and for 30 years the borders have been open, welcome to the land of the free, do you mean free stuff like housing, health care, food, and who pays for this, the taxpayer.

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

    Joaquin just spent 3 years of his savings doing landscaping, to buy an upper row seat to the game tonight.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    Who gives about cinco de mayonais its not an amercan holiday.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Benjamin Dover

    Actually because the sun is "sol" in espanol the correct name should be Los Sols

    May 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim

    I also want to point out that you people who say everyone is illegal except Native Americans are so closed minded and ingnorant. You cant even compare the settlement of North America to what is happening today. There is absolutely nothing in common with one or the other except someone is coming from a country to go to another location that is not their country. The illegals today are coming to a nation that has a large population and federal government. People who game to North America in the early days didnt break any laws because they made their own and had a more advanced (technologically wise) culture than any one native american tribe could even dream of contending with. Quit comparing apples to oranges and look at the reality of the world today. Illegal and go home. Legal? Well then you are more than welcome and have all my support in the world.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. janek

    @Texas Born

    Hey bubba you’r living on what was and is Mexican soil.

    You live in Texas, which per capita has more Mexicans then most states.
    The chances are pretty good They will bring home a Mexican.

    Better learn to “hablan Espanol”

    May 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. disisme

    @Texas born: First and foremost learn how to spell A55hole! How? Seriously? I think you meant home! And let me tell you something the filth will definitely come from your race... You are one DIRTY RACIST MOFO! You need to STFU, someone will teach you one day! PIECE OF SH**!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. megs

    This is absurd. This is America. We speak English here. Any other country on this earth would expect you to speak their language (or atleast make a genuine attempt at it). That's some statement for the USofA to put a very poorly translated spanish word on their jerseys... If you're here illegally, get out, you're not welcome here. Funny, but I don't think any of the players in the NBA from other countries are here illegally, so just play basketball.

    By the way, they're not looking for illegal polish people down there, that would be silly... it's not racial profiling.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Richard Morgan

    I guess the Suns can replace the social security money that illigal immigration is taking from me and others my age.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |

    All the people who are choosing to not go to the game....Can I have your ticket?

    May 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pedro_anonimo

    El Sol – singular in espanol, as in one sun
    Los Soles – plural, as in multiple suns, like on a planet in a galaxy somewhere
    Los Suns is correct.

    Learn some Spanish. Americans are really dumb at the languages.
    Most Europeans know 3 or 4 languages, Americans only know English

    May 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Legal Immigrant

    Illegal immigrants are just that. They broke the law of the United States by entering this country without permission. They deserve to be identified as having done so, arrested, and returned to the countries from which they came. That goes for ALL illegal immigrants. Oh, BTW, how does Mexico handle illegal immigration? How does Mexican immigration law treat foreign nationals? Check out the incredible double standard. And finally, why do so many from Mexicans put their lives at risk in order to sneak into the U.S.? Maybe that's a quesation Mexico should be asked. Better yet, maybe Mexico should fix the problems it has at home so that it's people can survive and thrive in Mexico and not have to come here and steal from the American people. As for the NBA, play basketball and stay out of politics of which you obviously know nothing.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. oscar m

    Texas Born

    Ilegal immigration is your fault. not ours. How much does your job pay you? I bet you're aching for a pay raise aren't you? I'll take your job for half the salary, minus the pay and sick leave. What does "sick leave" even mean? Your boys... I bet they get all stoned and get on CALL OF DUTY on Xbox. where did they buy their drugs. We're too poor to develop coke or marijuana habits. Mexicans bring the stuff over for YOU to use, not us. You create the demand for low wages and drugs, and we simply supply it.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
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