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. Tony

    Thanks now I never have to spend another dollar or minute watching a NBA game. A former season ticket holder of a NBA team.

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

    Really?? We don't care NBA..... As soon as anyone cares anything about the NBA again, that may make a statement. Until then, play ball....

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

    My spouse is 1st generation Mexican American who came here legally and along with his family all applied for and gained temporary residency, permanent residency then finally citizenship. It was a long difficult road. It is sad to hear him say that those against the bill are "not my people." His family came here looking for a dream in the 70's. They searched for education, community, church and a place to call home. He seperates himself now from the protesters because in his words "They (illegals) are demanding their dream and act as though they have the right to it without hard work, discipline and respect for the laws of the country they want to live in." If I allow an illegal to stay in my home, my husband could lose his citizenship. If he becomes a career criminal, he loses his citizenship. He would be punished, yet the illegals think they deserve more rights than him. It ticks me off thinking about that. But, he says "I will be punished not because of my race, but because I am expected to follow the Law." So is that the real issue, if illegals become legal – they become "Americans" just like all the rest of us. If they stay illegal, they can stand proud and say "I'm hispanic and I'm different and dont you forget it."

    May 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. monte schwartz

    Hey, it's great to see these guys who throw basketballs in a hoop seem to think they have an IQ......anyone with an IQ above 70 know that the AZ law is just and basketball players have NO business participating in politics. Bunch of losers......I'll NEVER attend a Suns game again!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. colorado kid

    We all need to BOYCOTT Arizona. Let us take our vacations elsewhere. Do not spend one dime in this hate State. Thank you.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Navajo72

    I am sorry our people taught the white man how to fish, hunt and plant. We should have kept the knowledge to ourselves. As for the "buffalo teepees", you killed off all the buffalo. There are very few buffalo left to eat,; Our young people are heavily alcohollic and dependent on the social sytems. It was not this way before the white man came.
    We should have let you starve to death in the plains and the desert.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chris

    Why does CNN put the latest post at the bottom? Way too much effort to see the end of the thread....I think they're in cahouts w the NBA:)....

    May 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rico Youngblood

    Steve Kerr, the SUN GM who was born in Lebonen (the middle east, not Indiana) called the people of Arizona racist Nazis for passing this long needed security law. His father was killed by terrorists in Lebonen. He is a JOKE who refuses to do the heavy lifting of protecting the State of Arizona. Steve Nash, the Canadian, called the law racist. Time fo rhim to move his white quota butt back to Canada and play for the Toronto Raptors. As for Robert Sarver, the owner of the Suns, if he hates Arizona so much, then do the full 9 yards and move this team to Juarez, Mexico and rename it the Juarez Illegals. FYI, the Mayor of Juarez a.k.a. Murder Ctiy, lives in El Paso Texas, as does the Chief of Police and the City Council. Yet, Kerr, Nash and Sarver want the peace loving people of Arizona who support this measure by over 70% to accept the lawless, corrupt, drug cartels, illegal imigrant cartels and the hard core individual criminals to come across our southern border at will and terrorize us. No Way JOSE.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Antipodiean

    Im not an american and i am very much to the left of the political scale but theres one thing i dont understand, sure racial profiling is bad but the point remians, if people who are stopped are legal they wont have a problem. perhaps this is just one thing to consider before moving to AZ? In my country we have entire communities which have been taken over and developed into chinese and korean areas and at this point in time that does not bother me as long as they contribute and pay tax like everyone else. i would not want illegals enjoying the same benifits as myself in my country if they are not contributing. Im sure everyone in AZ would welcome legal immigration... well...maybe not

    May 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chris

    @Navajo72...??????. Do you have electricity, phone, running water, etc? Enjoy.
    Compliments of an American.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rusty

    Pack up the LOST Suns and sell them to Mexico. Arizona doesn't need anyone or disorganization that supports ILLEGAL activity. I'll never got to another suns game. They should be Moon"ed by every former supporter. Go Spurs!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thom

    OOO first the Mexicans and then they can go after the Blacks and Jews!!! Onward Arizona! (You think Steve Nash will have to carry his green card when he plays?)

    May 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    "allows police in Arizona to demand proof of residency." Once again the news media is off base on this issue. They fail to mention that "if a police officer stops someone for a crime, then they can asked for identificationl " It is pretty bad when a news agency promotes conflict with citizens of this country. Maybe CNN has illegals working for them?

    May 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    This is completely stupid. "Los Suns"???? These idiots are too stupid to know that the proper way to say it in spanish is "Los Sols".

    May 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Former NBA FAN

    Bad choice David Stern. Leave politics out of basketball. Play the game and respect the people of Arizona that made the choice to enact the law. You've lost a fan and all my money.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
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