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. JR from Washington

    First I would like to congratulate the Pheonix Suns on making a statement.

    With this immigration law coming into affect, it is an affront to our American Liberties, this country was made up of a compilation of many nationalities. We are a pluralistic society which believes in Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Congrigate. Since the abolition of Slavery I have not seen anything so corrupt.

    I believe that Arizona is going to be given a new Mantra..... "Arizona the Phacist State," Just like during the holocaust, people will now be required to carry their papers, For Nazi Germany it was the Jews for Phacist Arizona it is the Hispanics. We have seen this Tyranny in history and it has never plaid out well. Why doesn't Arizona Government just do us all a favor and just cecede from the union, you are acting contrary to any America that I have grown up in. No person should fear crossing a state line thinking in the back recesses of their mind if they are going to have to deal with ratial profiling just for driving through a state. We are a nation proud of it's people and have a proud of it's heritage of diversity and many cultures. When you look at the colors on the American Flag try and remember what those stars and stripes represent and what America stands for. Arizona should have been dealing with immigration issues long before this administration so where has John McCain been? Why has he not brought forward this issue before?

    It is interesting that other states are getting ready to apply embargos and sanctions by removing their business from Arizona, kind of like the bay of pigs or like what the rest of the U.S. is getting ready to do to Syria. This is an election year and I think some bigon mayor is trying to make a name for themselves. You will get voted out and become lost in the annals of history.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hangman

    I am now boycotting TNT, the NBA and the rich, spoiled, uneducated halfwits who work there and make millions, living nowhere near the illegal invader problem from their multi million dollar mansions in their gated communities far away. Like Hollywood, they are as clueless as they are rich, and they have never even read the Ariz bill. White non-liberal America, you are the group being increasingly sold out by this lying leftist government, lying leftist media, and the rich black athlete nation who's salaries you most likely pay the majority of. You best wake up. Starting this November at the polls, and starting now with boycotting the NBA and these fools who inhabit it. Laws and rules mean nothing to them or the leftist agenda, and especially when non-liberal whites are getting the brunt of it. That my friends is their plan.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. juan molina

    Beautiful. It seems these previosly planned Cinco de Mayo jerseys had created a political storm. Be certain if these were better times all f you were not even paying attention to these news and everyone should be getting drunk for this historic holyday. Viva el Cinco de mayo. This type of comments were told in California when a racist story was enacted, now it is gone, finito. This is a country of laws and federal laws. In addition to that, who has the money to implement these laws? Amigous with a funny accent, you will be surprised who at work, at school, as a neighbor lives here illegaly. Just because these people does not have Making people legal does not make you better. Who is the naturalized american person trying to blow us up legal and american, illegal or naturalized? What gives us the correct designation as legally here, if we ask anybody to go back to our motherland or to where we came from, this country will be with no people. Only the naturals from these lands, which with no mistake to be done will include mexicans since their roots are here in this continent. And yes, these type of peopel take your jobs, the ones you should be holding and not being collecting money from the taxes these people is contributing and not able to collect since most of them will not collect if they lose their jobs and are adding money to SS.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. fredoe

    To all those who have negative things to say about immigrants, go to canada please america would be a better place with out hate mongers like you. ignorant people this is the land of the free.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andre

    CNN censors

    May 6, 2010 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Andre

    Mexico is the most racist country ever. USA is the most diverse nation on Earth. Do the math.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. san diego

    keep politics out of basketball. we all have our own beliefs, and i dont want yours to be shoved down my throat when i go to enjoy a game. everyone talks about our nation as one of immigrants, and yes it is, but how about ppl start talking about our nation as one of laws, that even immigrants have to obey

    May 6, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. AJ NEW SUNS FAN!!!!

    The sad thing here is that so many of you had lots to say about hispanics and out of no where all of a sudden blacks, what's next?
    Calling the players thugs and drug addicts is so sad just because they don't share your views,and after all your nonsense and threats only one lady showed up to protest.FUNNY thing is I guarantee you were rooting for the home team GO PHOENIX SUNS LOL It's easy to leave a comment but so hard to say it to a person you are next to. I am a true AMERICAN and I believe this law is flawed even with the changes. I support immigration reform but not in this way at all. My kids are in sports and many of the athletes and coaches are hispanic and we love them for all their contributions to our city. They coach for free they teach everyone respect and they are proud of what they do. I know the law is aimed towards the illegal immigrants coming into this country and something has to be done but I do not want my hispanic friends that have been here for generations that I trust my kids with, to be harrassed! I DO NOT WANT THEM SINGLED OUT BECAUSE OF THEIR COLOR!!!!!! EVERY person here has a hispanic,asian,european friend go tell them how you really feel face to face. ARIZONA THIS LAW IS FLAWED

    May 6, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Alex

    I am very pro immigration but very anti illegal immigration. How is it fair to allow people to stay who broke the law and not let others in who follow the rules?

    May 6, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Erick

    No more NBA for me......NEVER going to watch it again!!!

    May 6, 2010 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. AJ NEW SUNS FAN!!!!

    I believe we do need immigration reform, but absolutely not by profiling. I know the law states no racial profiling but come on how could it not be? I have a few hispanic and white friends in the Military now how would you feel as a hispanic after fighting for our country to be asked for papers to be here? It's not right, THE LAW HAS WAY TOO MANY FLAWS.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Puzzled in AZ

    Let me recap. Just about everyone agrees that securing our borders is a good thing. The invaders, however, believe they deserve a 'free pass' once they have infiltrated our country.

    So it's OK and proper if we catch them at the border, but not otherwise?

    May 6, 2010 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lloyd

    If actions and legislation that were racially motivated became illegal in Arizona, just think how full the jails would be.....

    May 6, 2010 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jude hayden

    Here is a solution to those who support illegal immigration–
    Then it should be mandatory for those who support it , to house, feed, provide health care and any other facilities these illegal immigrants need.
    I don't see these supporters doing that and I bet if it was mandatory the support would drop

    May 6, 2010 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. IllegalHater

    I will never ever ever ever watch a professional Basketball game again. If the suns want the great diversity why not have a mexican center??????

    May 6, 2010 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
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