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. Phillip

    all you Americans you have not create anithing worsless in this world nothing at all

    May 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. oscar m

    Texas Born

    go ahead and push your boys all you like, that'll just bring them sooner to us. that's how I got my WHITE wife. Good luck. ; )

    May 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. plopsdad


    Big man you are on the internet, too bad your IQ doesnt match how big you feel spouting off on the internet

    May 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Texas Born

    Philip – So, are you going to use a computer to "tech" me some lessons. You're obviously edumicated. I do go to other countries to vacation, and when I go, I learn to speak their language. You are cracking me up! Thanks for making my afternoon. 🙂 It's ok, they have a place for you after you's called HELL!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Man

    All you smart people that say that NBA players should stick to playing basketball and stay out of politics are all full of it. How bout you all stop voicing your opinions as well and stick to what ever it is you do. is the imigrations system in need of fixing? YES should we kick out all illegals? NO. They broke the law and should pay a fine. Criminals break the law as well, pay their dues and move on, and for your info... we are all here thanks to illegal imigrants that came from other countries and help create the country you currently live in so quit crying and get over your selfs.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ConcernedAmerican

    As far as the NBA goes, they dont owe anyone anything. Each team is privately owned. They can write whatever they want on their jerseys, and whatever language they choose. As business owners they can run their organizations as they wish, you see, thats the beauty of AMERICA!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe M.

    Can you imagine if a team owner in a major sport decided to make a political statement that the liberals disagreed with? You'd have pressure that the owner be kicked out of the league, boycotts of the team, rallies outside of the stadium with fans being intimidated. Where's the outrage? Sports should not be used to relay the political preferences of individual owners.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. openout

    i am now a LOS SUNS fan, patriot is a racist doosh bag. Viva LOS SUNS.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. christimarie

    Take your basketball team down to Tijuana. Your spoiled overpaid players don't know what it is like to live under threat near the border like the poor rancher who was killed. I will never like the Suns basketball team again, ever.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Martin Oakes

    I am a little tired of all the protests against the Arizona law which allows police to demand proof of residency.

    My wife and I were privileged to emigrate to this wonderful country in 1967, but the process was long and complex. I had to have a job. The company I worked for had to sponsor me. The FBI ran a background check. We underwent blood tests to prove we were STD free. Chest X-rays to prove we did not carry TB.
    We completed a multi page questionnaire which amongst other things required my wife swear she was not coming to the USA for immoral purposes. An interview by an Immigration Officer followed by an oath of loyalty.

    The whole process took nine months. At all times we carried our green cards as proof of legal residency.

    In 1975 we applied for citizenship. Another background check. We had to provide the names of two friends who had known us for a minimum of five years. We studied for citizenship examination. At our interview we had to prove we could both speak and write the English language. We were proud to swear allegiance to the flag.

    After we received our Passports we tore up our green cards. We both retained our European accent so when ever we travel we always carry our passports. At home our drivers licenses are always with us.

    Only those persons who have something to hide should fear carrying proof of legal residency.

    MO Freeport, Illinois.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phillip

    yes I will go to hell and guess what I would bring you down with me

    May 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mary

    I live here and I no longer support the Suns!! Everyone seems to be missing the point, this is not to be mean to the illegal’s it is to obey the law, just like everyone else does!! They are not all bad in fact some of them are really nice, they just need to be legal!!
    I am a American born us citizen who has never been in trouble, but yet I am on the no fly list and get hassled every time I fly, where is my protest people!!!

    I say justice for all and that includes all the rest of the criminals the law decides to put back on our streets!!


    May 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Texas Born

    OOOOOH...good one!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Phillip

    come on Texas Born do you still believe in god
    he will not protect you from me

    May 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. disisme

    Texas Born! You crack me up Bit**! I wish you could come over the screen so I can knock some sense into your fu**ing RACIST PIECE OF SH** A55!! I'm pretty sure
    you'll end up getting killed by your boys someday... And by the way you sound i'm pretty
    sure you are one of those trailer trash crack whor**! ha!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
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