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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  1. Phillip

    THANK YOU openout

    May 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Suns Fan

    If any of you people read the article, the team decided to wear the "Los Suns" jersey's. Granted, upper management may have came up with the idea, but they left it to the team to decide whether or not they wanted to wear the uniforms or not. The team overwhelmingly supported the "Los Suns" jersey's, and even the Spurs wanted to wear "Los Spurs" jersey's, however they could not have new road jersey's made in time for tonight's game. I live in AZ, and I hate the new law. If my fellow Arizonan's don't like the law, then don't renew your tickets! We need fans in the lower level who actually CHEER for their team! I was kicked out of a Suns game for cheering too loudly, because some yuppy in a collared shirt was trying to talk to his buddy, instead of watching the game. It sounds like we have a lot of those yuppies on this site too. GO SUNS!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JAJB

    Phillip: who exactly are you talking to? Me? You make an awful lot of assumptions, don't you. I guess I should have expected that, though, especially with all the sweeping, hate-filled generalizations you make.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Taker 2010

    Hello this is the U.S. not mexico. Why the hell would i celebrate that holiday. If arizona and california love mexico so much just become part of the country. And get the hell out of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. alexandreDEmoares


    I am Brazilian and I most definately DO consider myself Latin. Though not Hispanic, I am Latin, and most Hispanics are Latins as well, we share very similar educate yourself before assuming.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MYOB

    Hey Starver, if you like the name so much why don't you move your team to Mexico! You're a moron!! Sports and politics should not mix, period. Go Lakers!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. And how much did those new uniforms cost

    Don't stay anything until you live here – until you are kids are on lock down in their school because some drug smuggler is having a shoot out in the neighborhood, don't say anything until you have spent the day in the 104 degree heat cleaning up the trash that has been left behind by our PC – "crossers" I heard nothing except how we are all immigrants but sorry they were processed at Ellis Island there is no Ellis Island at our border. Instead there are drug runners, and coyotes that even for those wanting to have a "better life" are sold into slavery by their own countryman – paying thousands to get here. Then with our economy – most drug cartels are hiring the illegals because they can't get jobs – don't say anything until you see the bodies tossed across our freeways by a 15 passenger van carrying 35 that has wrecked and although saddened you know you will be impacted for the 22 that lived and were airlifted to the nearest hospital for care. Don't say anything when your children can't get into programs at school because those slots were taken by the children of ill gals they have no "reportable" income so come first in all those lines. Don't say anything until you live here and see our housing boom – builders made fortunes off the backs of illegals they say it takes $200,000 to build a house $75,000 of it labor then only pay out $45,000 to their under the table employees pocketing the rest (no taxes paid) – made them build and build houses they couldn't sell and in some cases built so poorly that people can't live in them. Don't say anything until you live here and see, although their are plenty of out of country plates (Mexico and Canada too) in the WalMart parking lot (and the highest stole car ratio in the country) the trucks you see headed back to the border have the new items hidden among what they bought (tax free) at yard sales so they don't have to pay an incoming duty on the new products. This leaves more trash in the parking lots of all our stores. Don't say anything until you live in a place where you have 4 local channels in English and 2 in Spanish where you have over 5 Spanish only radio stations that have been broadcasting the Nazi theme for over a week. Live in a place where amnesty was given to a people who don’t want it or need it (when you yourself had to go through a lengthy and expensive citizenship process) all other immigrants came here to stay – their e family were on the other side of the globe – Ireland, France, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cameroon, here you see a steady line of traffic as they go "home" for weekends and holidays – this to them is not American but an expense of their own country – Southern Arizona, looks like Mexico, feels like Mexico, it is no different for them to drive from Nogales Mexico to Tucson than it is for someone from Tucson to drive to Phoenix – it doesn't feel like you are crossing into another country. Unless you are going the other way and don't have your Mexican car insurance. Don't say anything until you watch a friend, a neighbor, a loved one suffer through the pain of an accident caused by someone who has no drivers license or insurance (Mexican or American) and slips back across the border with no recourse for the victim (making AZ one of the more expensive places to have insurance) – Deal with the ID theft that is rampant here – you are careful every time you slide your ATM card – watch daily as cartels battle it out in Phoenix and kidnap each other. Live here watch the border fall into a criminal corridor – We needed something, anything – and yes someone may get offended – but if the Hispanics here would have helped us tighten the border years ago – and encouraged people to get in line legally and not "come on over and wait for the next amnesty" maybe it wouldn't have been so drastic maybe it wouldn't cause such a stir – but we are just asking people to have ID same as with the bank, or the store – I get stopped at checkpoints all the time – and am a little proud to say – Yes Sir I am an American after all I worked to get there. And I don't get upset because the person asking me is Hispanic – I don't ask them what gives them the right – I respect the law. What I don't respect is people making rash judgments, not looking into it, people being led like sheep by a few rable rousers that use hot buttons to get their way and I don't Respect the President of Mexico or the darling of MTV telling me what my state should do. Both of you should try to make Mexico a better place so that people wouldn't have to risk their lives to get here.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Phillip

    AND Bohica
    English-Norwegian-Luxombourg-French-German-Swedish THAT LEVEL IS TO HIGH FOR YOU

    May 5, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. openout

    i know that not one of you biggots have read one piece of the hate speach legislation passed out there in old white man world

    May 5, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bruce

    Gcarlos said: "Europeans did it-Dahhhhhh. Waht's good for the goose is good for the pollo loco!!!!!"

    What book did you read? Illegal Immigration is Illegal Immigration. And it's by far bigger today than it's ever been in America's past.

    Honestly I have no idea what goes on in Mexico or why people have put up with many of the conditions for so long. I don't blame poeple for wanting a better life, but where's the outrage over the Mexican Government and the push the Change things in Mexico? Seriously, lets get Mexico to raise it's standard of living for it's people, they have let people wallow in poverty for way too long.

    Is there a big movement down there we just don't see trying to change things? Or is there fear to be too outspoken? I really would like to know.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JAJB

    Phillip: How do you know this? Didn't you say you live in a different country than the United States? Where are you getting your information?

    May 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Look at the pundits in the news media. The majority of the people objecting to the new immigration law are in New Jersey, or New York or Hollywood or Oshkosh. They do not live here in Arizona. I wonder why they think we need their opinions? I mean don't they have enough problems to work on in their own New York maybe?

    May 5, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JAJB

    @openout: Have you read it? I mean, actually read it, or are you reacting to what you have heard about it?

    May 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. james

    Hey Suns play basketball not politics.

    The Suns team is playing with fire as a majority of the State and the country support the new law as well as i imagine most of the people who buy tickets in that arena.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JoshP

    Good thing we all aren't really illegal immigrants, or at least not after we wiped out the Native Americans. Los Suns, I applaud you!

    May 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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