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. openout

    t born and phil should get a room

    May 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. janek

    By the way every May 5th (cinco de mayo) the Suns always wear those LosSuns jersy's.

    they have been for the last several years

    May 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alan H

    I find it disturbing that the Phoenix Suns , players and owners have collectively diecided to enter the immigration debate. There concern should be on the basketball court, not the court of law, or politics. Yes, today is Cinco De Mayo (May 5th), but is it not ironic the Suns are playing against the San Antonio Sprurs, the home of the Alamo.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Phillip

    Texas Born anithing alse you want to say before I send you to your RIP

    May 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. espursfan

    So many of you are saying that NBA and politics/government should not mix. WHATEVER! If this were true then we should never sing the national anthem at games. Hell yes it's political, and I applaud the Suns for taking a stand. Kudos for that ... otherwise Vamos Spurs!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jeff

    I think if they are for illeagal imagration then when they play basketball fouls should be leagal. I think they'll figure out why laws are in place and why they are needed.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. openout

    hey t-born, I just heard your mom tell you to wash up for dinner, spaghetti-oh's tonight, yum!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Texas Born

    Disisme...obviously you are as edumicated as Philip, since you can't even spell out a user name or write in complete sentences. I don't have the time for stupid people like didn't even answer if you were a worthless mexican. Piece out. And I live in a very nice suburban home, driving a very nice vehicle. I have a college degree and well-paying job. So take your crack-smoking ass somewhere else...maybe a job. Oh, I'm probably paying for your welfare, worthless mexican ass.

    And Philip – I'm tired of you too, I do believe in God, thus the reason I believe there is a hell, where you will end up. Maybe I should pray for you.

    I've had too much fun. Thanks for the chat!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Phillip

    lol openout

    May 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James

    For the record: May 5th does not mean a single thing in the United States of America. It is not a holiday here, and those saying "how can you say these things, on this special day". To ALL law abiding, tax paying, American Citizens, this is just another Wednesday. We do not honor boxing day here, so we shouldn't honor Holiday's from other countries either.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LALA

    Everyone of you supporting this law, needs to find out about your HISTORY. AMERICA

    May 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phillip

    kiss my .... Texas Born
    you should pray for you because I am gonna get you

    May 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. openout

    t-born why ya running? dont be scared, I'm not a big tough internet guy like you. c'mon back mayby we can have a play date, ill call your mommy.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carol

    Yet another reason to not watch sports. We all have to show proof of identification when you've been pulled over. Arizona is imposing THE SAME LAW as the Federal Government. BECAUSE the Fed. Government is not enforcing the law that is already in place.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AZsucks

    AHAHAH GO SUNS! Arizona is just being stupid as always with this bill. It won't last! You can't remove what is best for this country!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
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