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. JAJB

    Well, I expect that you are not 85, but nice to see that you can at least give SOME answer without resorting to your usual tactics.
    Hey, while you are at it... mind telling me exactly what it is about the SB 1070 that you don't like? But use the actual bill, please, not just what others have said. If you want to reference it, it is at http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf.

    Look forward to your answer!

    May 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pilas

    to NBA: 400 players from 36 countries, and they are legal. Illegals are illegals. NBA have rules. United States have immigration laws! They should be followed.

    May 5, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lucky

    @pilas sure we have laws, we have lawyers too!

    May 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ion Zovega

    It gives you a very sad feeling to find out the hordes of closeted racist living in AZ, What is worst is the level of ignorance by which they dare to express their opinion, as usual the extreme right of the republican party found a way to find the support on this state as always, fear, it is their best weapon; They came here to kill a farmers near the border! Police found tracks going back to Mexico. EXCUSE ME! , and this, few days before signing that awful law, I was the Police investigating , I'd go and ask question to the toothless Militias

    May 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JAJB

    Well, Phillip, as much as I have enjoyed our little tête-à-tête, I have to leave for work soon. It's about quarter after 8 pm where you are (Colombia? Peru? Ecuador? Panama? Perhaps Cuba or Haiti?), so you probably want to grab something to eat anyway. Feel free to post a response to my question, though, I'll happily look for it later!

    Ciao!

    May 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carol AZ

    Robert Sarver and Steve Nash have over stepped the boundries. Most people simply wanted to enjoy a game. There is a time and place for everything and tonight's game is not it. To tell us he asked the player's what they thought...are you kidding me?? SB 1070 is a bill to enforce the law and keep illegals out. It has nothing to do with racial profiling. It for Saver to say they are stepping up is like saying I'm not for our American Laws. Go Spurs!

    May 5, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bruce

    "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."

    Why is that wrong? You have to do it coming back into the U.S. no matter what you may look like. The concern of illegal imigration is over more than one nationality. Pre 9/11 I used to cross the boarder once a week for work, every time I came back accross, I was required to declare my citizenshi, every single person was didn't matter. Is that wrong in your mind?

    I don't blame people for wanting to leave a bad life and find something better. But lets see some movement to force some change in Mexico cause it needs some changing. I have no comprehension of how the Mexican government has the gaul to point a finger at the U.S. Seriously, doesn't the Mexican Government want to improve living conditions in Mexico so so many of it's citizen won't leave?

    The U.S. is broke folks. California alone has a $20 billion dollar deficiet and unemployment is high. In fact my area of Southern California is one of the worst. It improved to 27% in March. 27% is an improvement if you can believe it.

    May 5, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. randy

    Everyone should have a chance at a better life. However, there are proper channels to follow to come here legally. If you come here legally – work – pay your taxes then I don't think most people have a problem with that. HOWEVER if you come here ILLEGALLY – jump on our welfare system – take jobs and don't pay taxes then I think we have a big problem.

    May 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sandi

    Why whould anyone condone criminal activity. Shame on the "Suns" for supporting them. If all of these illegal aliens wanted to be here, why have they not followed the rules and regulations of the country they want to be a part of by getting work visas and green cards. NO they want more of the free ride they're getting.

    May 5, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Amanda

    The law is racist, plain and simple. Everyone can judge because they cannot possibly imagine the lives of others. Can you imagine risking your life just so you could have a job that not only put food on the table but gasp, also paid the electricity. I APPLAUD the Sun's players and management. Arizona can suck it! The federal government needs to get on the ball and fix immigration and stop turning good, productive people into criminals.

    May 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. William

    US citizenship is NOT a god-given right for every human being on the planet. It is a PRIVILEGE that should be granted ONLY to those who respect our immigration laws and thus pursue citizenship via proper legal channels. The Suns are kowtowing to power hungry hispanics and clueless liberals. Every decent, law-abiding US citizen in Arizona should begin behaving like illegal Mexican immigrants... crashing the arena gate without paying for a ticket, taking seats paid for by others, helping themselves to whatever concessions they want without paying for them.

    May 5, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Angelica

    I wonder what the American Indians think? Its their fault, they should have passed this law centuries ago to keep ALL immigrants out!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Long Dong Silver

    PHUCK THE Los Sol

    May 5, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alejandro

    I wonder how the KKK is doing with their Report an Illegal day, today.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. joe

    i'll be able to blackmail some illegal mexicanassssss!!!1 flash them my BADGE!!!!! ooooh YEAHHHHHHHHHHHh

    May 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
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