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 NBA.com 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 NBA.com.

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

    JAJB I UNFORTUNELLY HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOU GUYS EVERY DAY BY THE PHONE AS****S HOLE

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

    THOSE COMMENTS ARE MADE BY BASKETBALL PLAYERS. MILLIONAIRES WHO HAVE NEVER DONE A DAYS WORK IN THEIR LIVES. tHIS IS WHO YOU LISTEN TO.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. andre

    I like how most racist and xenophobic commenters claim this AZ law "protects our borders" considering the fact we almost got bombed by a pakistani who is currently an AMERICAN CITIZEN terrorist.
    The system may be broken but putting this immigration burden on the police will not make anything better.
    Legalizing prejudice against latinos is not the right way of keeping this country safe.
    And just food for thought: Mexicans are known for build things, not blowing them up.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JAJB

    @Phillip: So, now I'm an "AS****S HOLE", ey? Really? Why? What makes you say that? What have I said that has so upset you that you would call me names. Am I being too mean for you?
    Since you say you have to deal with North Americans every day by phone, what line of work are you in? Just wondering, mind you.
    Oh, and by the way... the English are in Europe, not North America...

    May 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. openout

    to you, And how much did those new uniforms cost
    i love spanish music and taco bell, and i was born and raised right here in the good'ol USA. I know how fortunate I am to have been born here. I served in the USN for six years with all different nationalities. I just can't write long winded pieces of discriminant hate about people who are trying to escape grinding poverty. Trash comes from all different people, the good old USA is the #1 poluter in thr world hands down. The USA makes up just over 5% of the worlds population, and we currently consume over 90% pecent of the worlds resourses. Now who is creating all the trash?

    May 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Raquel

    It is true that everyone should follow the law but that law is being racist. If I am a born citizen and a cop asks me if i'm legal that is wrong. I was born and raised in the United States but it is wrong what they are doing. I think the United States should help Mexico out so people could have a better life out there and they won't have to come out here and try to get a better life even tough they get discriminated a lot.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Trisha

    it's SOLS, not S-O-L-E-S.. to the first comment at the top..

    Arizona's "white" politicians are being RACIST! plain and simple!

    May 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Kellly, Phoenix

    Hey EVERYBODY! At tonight's game in Phoenix, do not stop at the gate. Tickets are not necessary, just bulldoze on through. When they ask you for money for your food or beer, tell them "no way, JOSE"! And don"t bother to use any of the trash cans unless there is a long line at the bathroom>
    Los Suns endorses civil disobedience so GO FANS.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JAJB

    @openout and Raquel: Have you actually read SB 1070? Or are you responding to what people and the press have said about it?
    Just wondering.

    May 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sunnyaz

    You can tell a lot of people haven't actually read the law. If you are going to argue about something at least know the facts. The media has greatly helped with the facts being distorted as well. Check out the facts on ILLEGAL immigrants in the U.S...hispanic or not!
    http://www.immigrationcounters.com

    May 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. matt

    Everybody boycott the Suns, so I can buy their tickets cheap!

    May 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jason

    Texas Born – was born out of a long horn cow

    May 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phillip

    OHH YEAH I FORGOT YOU YANKEES DONT KNOW HOW TO SPEAK YOUR OWN LANGUAGE DONT WORRY NOBODY LIKES THE YANKEES SHI******T BAGS JAJB DONT FEEL PROUD OF YOUR COUNTRY US IS NOTHING ON THIS WORLD

    May 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Kellly, Phoenix

    I am from Phoenix and WAS a life long SUNS fan. NO MORE. I hope they get their political A$$es kicked tonight. Give them Cinco to remember and regret........

    LOSE SUNS! or is it Suns are losers?

    May 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. openout

    JAJB
    i gotta go, i did'nt even get what you said, and yes i have read some of it. these things are hundreds and thousands of pages long. all you scared white folk can go to the LIBRARYOFCONGRESS.COM to find out what you elected officials are supporting. a great deal of is not what they say they are doing. educate yourselves usa usa usa IM OUT

    May 5, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
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