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. JAJB

    Aw, I DID hurt your feelings, didn't I? Oh, and using the word "amigo" is not "trying to speak Spanish". I could just as easily have called you "Freund" or "amico". You really don't get irony, do you?

    And thanks for the assumption that just because I can use proper English I can't speak another language as well. You don't even know what my native language is, or where I am from. For that matter, you don't even know what COUNTRY I'm in, or what color my skin is, or even if I am male or female. Yet you persist in making threats and accusations, without even knowing what you are talking about.

    And stop yelling. It's rude. 😛

    May 5, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SoulTaker6

    The powers that be behind the Suns have overstepped their bounds, and forgotten their job is to manage a basketball team, not promote politics on the court.

    It's fine if some don't like SB1070, but to make have the entire team promote the views of a few is arrogant. Not everyone within the SUNS organization is against this bill.

    Once again, greed takes center court as the powers that be attempt to kiss the right asses of those who control the purse strings instead of just playing basketball.

    I hope one of the asses being kissed is a replacement for mine, as I have now turned my back on the SUNS forever over this.

    Way to support your state and its people, PHOENIX SUNS.

    Hope you lose to the Spurs.


    May 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike_Utah

    So, if I sneak into the arena for this play off game without buying a ticket what will THEY do?

    May 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lala


    May 5, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    that's it for me, I will not watch or go to another Suns game or support them in any way. These over paid jerks think they can put politics into the game will pay the price. They live in multi-million dollar homes in secure neighborhoods with personal guards, while the rest of us live with the drugs and crime that come with the flood of these illegal immigrants. I say to the rest of you that support our governor that you should do the same. Take 60% away from their income and see how fast they change their tune.!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Betty Humpter

    dam mexicans!

    May 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chay

    Are any of the players illegal? Were any of them illegal? If so, I would imagine they now have legal residency of some sort. This is stupidity at its finist. The bill, if anything, should promote illegals to finally do what they should have long ago - apply for residency and citizenship. Unless they like to run to Mexico after committing their crimes.....We all know Mexico doesnt like Mexicans who have become American citizens.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Phillip


    May 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. greedyma

    It's amazing how people are getting away from what the real issue is because they are throwing around thier racial slurs in order to hurt one another. Everyone should remember that it doesnt matter what you say for the most part people will stand on thier beliefs rather right or wrong. what happend to world peace not just usa peace. we have to care for one another and find ways to up lift eachother no matter who they are. 2 heads are better than 1. it would be amazing to think of how far we'd go when there is variety in our growth as a whole. let's give them a way to become legal before we just ship them out. everyone say go back and come back legal how when they have to be legalized here? I'm sure if it was easier done than said many would have done it by now. not all of them are murders and drug trafficers so lets consider that also. The USA is not without its own murder and drug traffic members even if they did all leave so i doubt them leaving will eleviate those issues.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JAJB

    So, Phillip, you want me dead. Really? How come? You seem to have no answers other than resorting to name-calling and threats. Doesn't exactly speak well for you, does it.

    Hey, I'm not debating with a 12-year-old, am I? I'm starting to wonder...

    May 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. carlos Palacios

    Well done guys least you all have the balls to stand up and speak out for the spanish community....Thanks you


    May 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jeff

    If the NBA and Stern want to advocate ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION then maybe the idea of a boycott is appropriate for the "Los Suns". I think the league has enough issues as it stands. I will not watch another playoff game this year! Can't wait for the Suns to lose.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phillip


    May 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JAJB

    Aww, Phillip, you made me laugh again! Good for you! But seriously, how old are you? Just approximately. At least 18? In your 20s? Older than 35?
    Of course, I don't expect you to answer. I expect you to come back with more foul language and insults, telling me how you don't care and you want me dead.
    Go ahead... prove me wrong.

    May 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phillip

    I AM 85

    May 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
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