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. Notso

    The people from south of the border are so lucky their skin is not white. Now they can throw out the "racist" term with no real subtantial arguement as to why they should be allowed to break the laws of the U.S.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Esteban

    Barkley obviously needs a tall one.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kyle in LA

    Leave the politics out of sports! I'm not all for the law, but seriously, stop it! That makes you at the level of Hollywood, and no one takes that seriously. Right?

    May 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mike

    The owner of the Suns has every right to make this change and i'm proud he did. I think there is a lot of misguided anger towards Hispanics in regards to this bill. I've seen all kind of claims that illegals are killing/robbing/raping everyone in Arizona. Think about that for a moment. There are going to be bad illegal immigrants just as there are bad citizens of the United States. Any one who is coming to the United States to perform illegal acts should be thrown in jail or kicked out. Anyone who wants to come here and work and be a productive part of society should be welcomed with open arms. Almost everyones family in the United States came here as an immigrant at one time or another and a lot of ancestors would really to have loved to have support instead of being insulted and accused of misdeeds.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel

    NBA morons!!! They are protesting about something they know nothing about and making a mockery of our immigration laws.

    May 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HD

    Read the news people,its just not mexicans and people from south america coming across our southern borders ! Reported right here yesterday on CNN was a story about a bus pulled over disguised as a legitimate business and it had two chinese illegal men in it right right along with the latinos ? So who else is taking the SA route to get here?

    May 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. karen serdy

    I agree that the Suns players do not have to worry about losing their jobs or having their wages decline due to illegals coming in and completing taking over the NBA. Ask construction workers, landscapers, service workers, etc. These jobs/occupations have been almost completely lost to illegal immigrants.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel

    Really Mike? How about if they come to this country correctly, then they will be welcomed with open arms.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. all of america

    anybody that does not support this law is for all illegal activity,if you don't like this law,leave Arizona and don"t come back!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gordon

    I wonder if Mr. Sarver would 'care' if I and a number of others came to the game without tickets and lept the turnstiles? Would he ask for police support? Would I enjoy the same rights and privledges as ticketholders? Would he mind if we asked for free beer and nachos? Would he care if I then jumped the concession stand and worked behind the counter without paying taxes? Hipocrasy

    May 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Yankee Thunder

    Wow, what a way to support BREAKING THE LAW! This country is really going downhill. I'm really disgusted with the way this country is turning into a politically correct cesspool. The last time I checked, those who were here LEGALLY spoke ENGLISH- even if it was their second language and those that couldn't speak English were either tourists or ILLEGALS because if you went through the immigration system the legal way you would have learned English. What's so hard to understand??? And for the record, I doubt I'm the only one who will be boycotting anything related to the Suns, any business that supports them, and any business that supports ILLEGAL immigration in any way, shape, or form.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MrShy

    BOYCOTT THE NBA .... and boycott C-ommunist N-ews N-etwork.... Even your headline pushes an agenda:

    "Immigration takes center court at Suns-Spurs playoffs" ??? Negative, POLITICS takes center court at Suns-Spurs playoffs.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rafi

    Viva Los Suns. The Diamondbacks should follow suit and protest the racist law.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dennis-AZ

    You Indian people are funny.
    We conqured you guys over 100 years ago and your still complaining!
    Go to your buffalo skin teepees and watch the game!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Edward Gonzales

    Yeah Keith is a lefty, but see the ad for yourselves. Click on the "Florida GOP Candidate runs racist ad".

    May 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
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