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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  1. Native Girl

    lol im sioux. Amanda you are right we should have. Im not racist but I am all for this law. Raised in NM I know many people who are "legal" immigrants and have good lives. How many illegal immigrant drug dealers do you think are out there lots! Why are they illegal? they come with ill intent. They dont get green cards cause they dont wanna get taxed yet our dollars are paying for it. Get legal or Get OUT!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alejandro

    You think that Europeans look at Native Americans with honor, but in reallity are looked with pitty, all the while looking like mexicans hahahahah..better have your tribe card ready native girl. Dont worry I have been here for thousands of years too native girl

    May 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Native Girl

    Well I dont look for pitty im a hard working american like most of you. And i dont look mexican Alejandro looks like you should get yours ready ignorant fuc* the only person pittied here is you.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jose

    most of you are wrong,immigrants, illegal or not,come here to work hard and do the job that most of you don't want to do and also remember that this was their land first and you took it they are not asking for you to return it, they only want to share it,after all this time you still the same hateful ignorant people.i fell sorry for you.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mr. Ewok

    This is truly pathetic. Professional athletes and their team owners showing solidarity in action against the Good Ol' USA because most of the citizens of the state of Arizona chose to support a law designed to protect them rather than let illegal immigrants run rampant.
    What part of "illegal" are these people not capable of understanding ? The law is not a show of racism. It demonstrates very clearly that US citizens are tired of waiting for the federal government to enforce existing immigration laws so Arizona decided to enact its own law to address the problem. One state down, only 49 more to go !!!
    The bleeding hearts out there need to check into the immigration laws in effect and enforced in most Central and South American countries.
    The US is a joke compared to how countries like Mexico deal with illegal immigrants.
    I don't have a problem if someone comes into the US legally and follows the established path to proper naturalization and citizenship. But, if you're illegal, you are breaking US laws and you should be picked up and deported to the southern tip of Patagonia. If you're here illegally, YOU DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS HERE !!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dallas

    Wow, I have never seen this much hate. Why do Arizonans hate mexican immigrants so much? How would you like if a cop stops you and ask you for ID every time you walk down the street and you and your father before were born here! Not very much, right. Why can't you people understand that when you remove peoples rights you remove you own.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jessica

    Native Girl....I just came from a Cherokee Nation meeting, and we the Cherokee Natives are very upset about this racist law, and our brothers, the Tohono Indians in Arizona will sue the State of Arizona next to me, you are not a native american, probably someone trying to pose as as false native american...shame on you.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Native Girl

    Jose You are right to a certain extent whats wrong with becoming legal? Why come here illegal and have to live with that on your back?

    May 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rene lagardre

    Anybody can work and live happily in Arizona but in a legal way. Illigal are still illigal and it is a crime, please dont patronized them. Majority of Arizonians are in favor of the bill, so be one of them hypocirte!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Native Girl

    Shame on you! You dont live in a drug infested place. Im not racist and who are you to say im not indian because i have an opinion i dont have a problem with mexicans my problemn is the drugs they bring in that are killing my people so when you bury your friends and family to heroin you come talk to me. They are bringing it and they are selling it so screw you.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jose

    cause if this people had the money to get a visa they wouldn't need to come here,the requirement are insane i don't have a problem with the law but if a cop stops Juan I'm only asking for him to stop bob

    May 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NJ1982

    Jose 1072, I agree with you that MOST illegals only come to work and stay out of trouble because they need to stay under the radar. However you can not say this about ALL illegals, the problem is if you don't know who the hell they are, how can you possibly know that they are not dangerous? You need to understand that much of the support for this law is not driven by hateful ignorance, rather by a desire to be kept safe from criminals who are here illegally.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Native Girl

    Jose I didnt mean any offense my best friend is mexican I have a problem with the drugs and the crime. Maybe we should be making it easier to become legal instead of making it illegal to want a good life.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DanColo

    The rich NBA boys don't understand anything other than ticket receipts. Illegal immigration is bad for our country. It is the effect of a broken border! AZ is simply trying to enforce the law of our land.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jose

    30% of people in jail are Latinos the other 70 it's your oun kind drugs where here before we got here and also if Latinos don't bring it you'll go get it

    May 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
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