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. pb

    @JAJB......Some companies like Dell, Sony outsource their phone customer support to South America and I can see some people from there showing their anger. I am not on either side, just trying to solve a puzzle for you......:)

    I think the new law is just and fair, its against illegal immigrants and not against immigrants. Every American is an immigrant unless you are a native American.

    Anyway Sports should be separate from politics....!

    May 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guest22

    They should really make the jerseys say "Soles" for a direct replacement for the regular jerseys that read Suns. Just a suggestion. Also, they already had these jerseys made up for Latin Heritage night in the NBA, so they really aren't doing much here but recycling jerseys that the NBA made them use earlier in the season.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JAJB

    Who said I was leaving, Racist? Hey, are you and Phillip the same person? But thanks for saying you like me! 😛

    Phillip, you are sad. So sad. I was just trying to get you to think about what you are posting... but that is apparently a lost cause, because you seem to be reacting to what you expect (or is it hope?) me to be saying, without ever actually reading and comprehending it.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Phillip

    JAJB STOP CRYING LIKE A BIT****CH GO TO YOUR MOMMYS HOUSE TO CHANGE YOUR DIPPER AND GO TO SLEEP IS ALREADY 7-17PM ET YOU ARE NOT SUPOSE TO BE AWAKE AT THIS HOUR GO TO BED BE A GOOD BOY

    May 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JAJB

    @pb: Yeah, I figure it's probably something like that. I was just wondering what he'd say. He is fun to play with, though, isn't he?

    May 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robert

    Gave my tickets for tonights game to an illegal

    May 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JAJB

    Phillip, seriously, you are making me chuckle. You don't actually read anything, do you?

    May 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. msr23jka

    The Suns can kiss my American ass! They want to support the illegel Mexicans then why dont they move the damn team to Mexico. DAMN IDIOTS!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Phillip

    YOU ARE MAKING ME SICK JAJB GO HOME LIKE A SAID STOP CRYING YOUR MOMY IS WAITING FOR YOU IDIOT

    May 5, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Professor

    It's really sad that our political officials ( president included ) continue to find ways to create division and chaos in our country. We are more devided that ever!

    May 5, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Is Arizona going to change there name too? It is a spanish word. Spaniards were here first. BTW, Spain is an European country.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pb

    @JAJB......Its just too much fun to see people fighting over something they can't do anything about especially when its for everybody's good.......even for illegal immigrants b'cos some of them might get legal status and right pay for their job......unless they are criminial and in that case.....they deserve to be sent back or treated according to laws.

    Very soon we'll see other states following the same footsteps......good.....!

    May 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JAJB

    Aww, poor Phillip. Not feeling well? What, is it because I am not running from you in fear? Because I am not cowering in a corner, overwhelmed by your biting wit and darkly sarcastic delivery? The only one crying here is you, amigo. Sorry if I hurt your feelings.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Phillip

    DONT TRY TO SPEAK SPANISH I AM NOT YOUR AMIGO NOT IN 1000 YEARS
    DONT WORRY JAJB I WOULD GET YOU JUST LIKE T-BORN DONT WORRY LOL

    May 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. blah

    Wow this is really dumb, just because an NBA player had a comment to say about immigritation doesnt mean you should stop watching their games and go off on them. And honestly I am Mexican myself, now just because i am doesnt make me illegal and i am very respectful to my own culture and any others as well. And i absolutely dislike when other hispanics say things like "yea, hispanics are taking over" or when they make stu pid racist comments against americans because I think if hispanics are really here then they should at least respect the country.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
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