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. nostradamus

    To All AZ Anti-Immigrant dirty mouth bashers: Did you know that this racist State belonged to Mexico just decades ago? I agree with Mexicans living in AZ, en New Mexico, Texas and California, when they say that they didn't pass the border, but the border passed them. One more think. Did you know that your ancestors came illegally to the United States, but then this Country was compassive and kind and there were not the bunch of ill racists that today fill up this post spitting racist venom over here?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. lkj

    For all of the misiimformed, I've done the 15 seconds of research for you. Reading it is up to you.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Marisa

    Wait, hasn't the NBA done this the last few years anyway?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mr. Tea


    Oh wow. Los Retards? Really, how long did it take you to come up with that? Did you have to consult the rest of your kindergarten class? Actually, you started off well by calling this what it is-a stunt. It is exploitation of an issue that is irrelevant to basketball and contrary to the desire of the majority of LEGAL residents.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike Honcho

    People are stupid boycotting the Suns and rooting for the Spurs. THE SPURS wanted to do the same thing. Except they did not have enough time. See all these so called Americans believe in freedom and freedom of speech. UNTIL YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM. The NBA, the team, anyone has their right to support the law or be against it. BUT THEY WONT SEE THIS. Hey Arizona stop going to the game more tickets for me. SUCKS TO BE THE MOST HATED and DESPISED STATE IN THE COUNTRY.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. El Texas

    All I Know is that the NBA, MLB and NFL are about to cut big fat contracts in Arizona. Money talks and once Arizona realizes that they are losing millions and millions every month on contracts, they're going to have to reverse the law. As a marketing specialist I know that the "Los Suns" jersey will bring hispanic audience to spend more money in the NBA market. Its too late to try to get rid of an issue that got way of out hands 40 years ago...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. nostradamus

    Meaghan, very smart and accurate post.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. Eric

    Linda why do you hire the illegal to clean your house or do your gardening?? If you employ them they will keep coming!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Just Curious

    Ok, so the third jersy is now being worn strictly as a protest action. I'm sure the third jersey is now avaliable for sale and also sure that ALL proceedsfrom those sales will now go to a charitable organization dealing with effects of illegal immigration and not into the pockets of NBA, the Suns ownership, or the NBA players asscoication. Otherwise, it's not a protest as much as a marketing opportunity.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. Good bye Suns

    #1: Terrible decision to take politics into the sporting arena. i went to games to get away from those types of things.

    #2: I have lost respect for this franchise. I will not now or ever again consider myself a fan of this team. I support the immigration bill and don't need for a bunch of millionairs to shove their personal beliefs down my throat with this crap.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. Flex Chokewell

    Read the Constution morans. It doesnt say anything about non-American basketbal players opinions. The fact that they changed the name just shows how stupit they realy are. This country was founded on freedom, and I am expresing my free speech by not watching the game. Its not right for all these people to come here. They took our jobs!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Linda

    I feel that we need to be more respectful to people and opinions that differ from our own. That is what makes America great! We are not making any progress by constantly fighting. Let's try to be constructive and come up with some ideas that make sense. It makes me feel good when I see someone standing up for their beliefs, whether you believe in them or not. I support the Phoenix Suns organization for their decision to have their players wear "Los Suns" jerseys today to honor Phoenix's Latino community.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. nvsblwmn

    Linda; If you comment was directed at me it is a little off base. Just because I don't agree with all aspects of the law does not make me mexican. It makes me sad to see someone use such rhetoric. You are the reason this law will not be effective, because it just insights hate in people who are normal very nice.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. US Citizen

    Im a Arizona Citizen, go Spurs!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Megan

    I agree with the comments about part of the respnsibility falling onto those who employ illegals. I'm not from AZ so I don't know what their policy is for businesses who are found to employ people who don't have legal status or work visas. Does anyone know? I do know that some states impose fines, but they don't seem to be severe enough.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
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