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. Paul

    I wonder if anyone on the team has actually read SB 1070.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bethany

    Los Suns had a sold-out arena and Won the game!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. android1

    Just lost all respect for not only this team,but the sport.Are you kidding me?What a load of crap.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    These players are stupid. This is a stupid ploy to make it look like they accept everyone where legal or illegal. These people should understand that they are encouraging people to do wrong. What is wrong is wrong. It can never be right, no matter how much you argue. So you bb players, please shut your mouths and play your game and do not get involved in political disputes and encourage people to do wrong and break the law. If these people become tbe majority, they will turn America into a spanish nation and a third world country like Mexico and you stupid anglos that support these illegals will be spat in the face. So think carefully before you pull a stunt like this and encourage people to break the law. One day the whole thing will burst in your face like I said above and you will be regretting and crying. So shut your mouths and play your game like a professional.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Angel

    I am proud that the Suns have protested this bill. People (especially people that don't live here) have no idea what kind of power it gives law enforcement. It's bad enough with the idiot Joe Arpaio conducting rades on people in the their homes at all hours of the day and night, pulling innocent children out of their beds by gun point scarring the hell out of them, dragging women out screaming and lining them all up before they check their immigrant status but now they can do it 365 days of the year. It is sad how easily people are led the news spews out bs stating how Az borders have gotten out of control when in reality if you look at the facts crime on the Az borders is at an all time low. The murder of the poor farmer is UNSOLVED, it's just easier to blame illegals than to do the investigating. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Isn't that one of the bases Americans stand on? Also the officer shot in the desert? Seriously? Supposedly 5 men with ak47's gave this man a flesh wound and let him go?? Does anyone else find that a little fishy? I do believe we have a problem with how easy it is for immigrants to enter illegally but a bill that allows a whole race to be singled out is just wrong!!! So wrong on so many levels.This is American land of free I read no where exceptions on race. This bill allows any person looking remotely hispanic to be stopped and harrassed. Sorry but America is made of immigrants the only natives are the Indians, that seems to be so easily forgotten. God Bless to all and I pray that people open there eyes to thi sinjustice before it gets too far.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. ment4you

    Remove this racist pigs out of Arizona and disperse them across the country so that they will stop being problem including McCain!!!

    May 6, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Thomas Greco

    Keep politics out of sports. I hope they lose every game they play.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Debra

    I am from Arizona and I respect what the Suns did 100% There is a huge amount of disgust at SB1070 in this community by people of faith. I think our community needs this kind of voice to show how wrong the legislation is. GO SUNS!

    May 6, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. freespeeker

    You always know someone is losing the argument - and may have a strain of authoritarianism - when the best they can come up with is "shut up, you have no right to speak."

    One commenter says: " Keep your opinions about politics in the voting box. These athletes aren't being paid to spout their agenda on national TV."

    This is America. We have free speech. Politics is about more than voting, it's about participating in your nation and state. Just because you're a star athlete doesn't mean you have to check your beliefs and ideas at the door.

    Let's have a debate where everyone speaks their minds and the chips fall where they may.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rusty

    Jose1072 I can tell you're thoroughly versed in US history. Remember the Mexican -American War when we kicked the hell out Mexico then. And there's the small matter of the Treaty of Guadulupe Hidalgo. Know what purchase mean?? $$$ It means NOT illegal. Eventually you'll figure it out.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. pMART

    Does anyone seriously believe no racial profiling will occur with this new law??? Show me one police department in the entire USA that is perfectly assembled..... didn't think so...

    May 6, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Immigrants son

    So can someone please explain the difference between the illegal Mexican immigrants arriving in Arizona and the English immigrants arriving in eastern United States in colonial times??...............oh yeah the Mexican immigrants of today arent trying to take land and exploit people their simply attempting to give their children a better life something YOU would do if you lived in Mexico......

    May 6, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. frank042

    12 million illegal aliens were being paid by unethical employers to take jobs from Americans today, while also receiving U.S. taxpayer-funded services (and angrily demanding more). Meanwhile, I mowed my own grass and cleaned my own house. The NBA apparently thinks those were two things that couldn't get done by anyone other than illegal aliens. I'm not spending another dime on that organization unless it starts supporting the law.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. tman

    This is not about immigration but about illegal immigration. We in AZ have people being killed by the overflow from Mexico. Even cops are shot. So should we just consider all lawbreakers forgiven. Lets forgive the child molesters, DUI killers, perverts, I mean they all have someone who loves them and cares about them so get me a towel and forget all the laws. Yes lets even forget all the red light runners and speeders that are caught on cameras.
    Get real. it is a crime like any other.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Karen

    I am 100% white and i am against this law its simply ridiculous would you guys listen to yourselfs?!? what if this was being done to you how would you like it??

    May 6, 2010 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
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