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. DonBeal

    If nothing else, the Arizona law is extremely divisive. Is that really the way we want America to be?

    May 5, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NJ1982

    Rusty 1110, I understand your anger at the suns organization, however Gregg Popovich(head coach of the spurs) also supports what the suns are doing. Just FYI, You might want to boycott the series Altogether!!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Yvonne

    Thank you for remindind America that the world is bigger than a basketball. Viva Los Suns!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Navajo72

    Do you know how the white man works? After more than 500 years?
    They steal, conquer, humiiliate and then try to kill if they are successful.
    Indian people are not the only victims.
    Look at Mexicans.. African Americans...
    And our own native people.
    White kids are taught all about George Custer.
    Everything you hear about Pocahantas, is from the caartoon movie.
    Try learning true Native American history for a change.

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

    “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,”

    So just how many of those 400 players from other countries are here illegally?

    May 5, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nowetback

    Support illegal immigrants, move the suns to Mexico and let them provide the oversized paychecks basketball players get. If there are enough of them that care to do that.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. American Citizen

    I may be wrong but is asking someone to provide proof of legal residency the best way to catch illegals? Maybe we should wait until they steal someone's social security number or commit a crime against a US resident before we ask for their green cards. If you are in this country legally then I applaud you. If you are in this country illegally then you are breaking the law and need to be arrested and deported hence you have no rights as far as I'm concerned. Do your country a favor and boycott the Suns organization to show them that they should have never brought politics into sports.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joel W

    The political position the Suns and the NBA have chosen to take over Arizona's immigration law is offensive and incompatible with the basic notions of government's duty to protect its citizens and its right to secure its borders. My respect for the NBA and many of its players has just cratered. I no longer have any interest in the NBA.

    What is it about making tons of cash in Hollywood or professional sports that turns people into blithering idiots?

    May 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Navajo72

    What the helle???
    No one who took over our land, asked for papers or even a permission.
    The Spanards did it in the 1600's
    Then the white man in the 1700's
    And the US government put our people on the reservations later.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. zeus

    im an illegal alien in phoenix arizona and since i first learned of this redneck, white bread, snow bunny, hilly billy, neo nazi, kkk, arion nation racist law, i have concluded to boycott all of arizona. from now on, i´m not going to buy anything in this state. i´m going to stop working and live on walfare. i should get a nice fat check ´cause i have 8 sons born here in the good old USA. and the SUNS better recognize ´cause if they don´t change their name to LOS SUNS, i´ll boycott them too. jajajajajajjajajjaj. you see, i´m here to stay. and pretty soon all my causins that are back in old mexico will get here and i will show them how to live off the system! hahahahaha Hey dont hate the player! Hate the GAME.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jay Englund

    CHEERS to the NBA for even a token gesture of recognition. My 1/2 white self considers this simply support of the Latino community, local and national, and my other 1/2, Hispanic, considers this praise, not politics nor pandering. Hey, it's Cinco de Mayo people, celebrate ALL races and cultures, IT'S WHAT MAKES THIS COUNTRY GREAT! Remember something they talked about in school called the "melting pot"?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. throw it in the bag

    I don't get this "LOS SUNS" thing. Nobody is saying that Mexicans and other Hispanincs can't live in America, all we are saying is to do it the legal way. How come CNN doesn't report on the illegals that come here and use our hospitals without paying, use WIC, food stamps and have babies in our hospitals for free? I guess CNN doesn't care to talk about the other side of the coin.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mitch

    I love this. now let me take a poll....was anyones grandparents or great grandparents or great, great, great, great grandparents from america???? unless you are indian...then my guess would be NO!!!! we are all from other countries. what they need to do is change the law on how to be a legal citzen. if they do this then we would have more legal mexicans.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anonymous

    I am an anglo american (legal) who will be paying nearly $20 next weekend for menudo and enchiladas at a local mexican hispanic restaurant where workers that i know are illegal work. Simply beacuse it's better than taco bell and i want to spit in the face of sb 1070. here is an exttra 20 bucks under the table for my waitress. andale, andale!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ithinkformyself

    Boycott the NBA? For me this is no problem.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
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