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. Debra

    the Suns wanted to wear that shirt how about the team wear shirts that say I want kids have an education look where Americans stand we can't get OUR kids to pass the AIMS test or they can't get a job because they can't read but we don't see anyone haveing a fight about that so I guess that way the SUNS want to fight this because they can't read do Math or they don't UNDERSTAND WHY THIS COUNTRY IS THE WAY IT IS .If they go out of the USA do they need a passport or do they tell the other countrys I A AMERCIAN AND YOU WILL DO WHAT I SAY BECAUSE I COME FROM A DIFFERENT PLACE AND I WILL BRING THE DRUGS TO YOUR KIDS AND I WILL MAKE THE PROBLEMS I WISH TO DO SO AND I WILL TAKE THE JOBS AWAY FROM YOU BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT PAPERS SO YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME WHAT I WANT OR I WILL TAKE IT FROM YOU. SO the SUNS hope you fall on you faces

    May 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JAJB

    @ConcernedAmerican (Post # 913): I'm just curious, have you actually read the law? Or are you just reacting to what people and the press are saying about it?

    May 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bob

    basketball is thugs game

    May 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. disisme


    I doubt you are educated!
    Stop flaunting what you probably don't have!
    And for your information, i'm not on Welfare, you idiot!
    I just hate people like you, RACIST KKK BI*CH!
    I feel so sorry for your trailer trash, ghetto wannabe A55!!
    HAHAHAHAH! Like I Said you crack me up, PENDEJA!!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. but likkerrrrrr

    this is awesummmmmm !!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    The Arizona law is somewhat analogous to having your house infested with rats due to multiple holes in your walls. Instead of chasing the rats in perpetuity – FIX THE WALLS.
    Legislate massive fines against the hiring of ILLEGALS.
    Deny the free rides on education and health care.
    Close the borders.
    Once they are gone they cannot come back. Without money and benefits, the parasites will have no viable hosts.

    May 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. but likkerrrrrr


    May 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Phillip

    WHITE SHI*****TS

    May 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ac

    These players should focus in playing and don't let politics and emotions become part of the game. Besides, they are getting pay for running the ball and not for running their mouths.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JAJB

    @Phillip: I understand you disagree with TexasBorn, but don't you think you should draw the line at actually threatening her life?

    May 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. screw

    all wet backs should go home if they dont like the law the law is the law and thats that cicanos go home

    May 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phillip


    May 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JAJB

    @Phillip: You harm your own cause more than anything else with threatening posts. So I don't have to do anything... you are doing it yourself.
    (And don't take this as any sort of endorsement of TexasBorn, just because I am disagreeing with your methods.)

    May 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Davidc452

    Hmmm...pretty sure most Brazilians do not consider themselves 'Latin' – and all the Brazilians I know speak Portuguese..not Spanish.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. dale

    more then 60% of the general public approve of this law – the few who disagree are the ones that the media likes so it appears to be more then it is. My Mexican friends – be it they are all of 3 generation all agree with the Law. The splitting of family's is not nice, but something should be done now or that problem is going to get much worse. If this country doesn't stop being so polictically correct we are going to go down..... the drain

    May 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
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