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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soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. 1ProudLatina

    Hurray for the SUNS for showing some BALLS!!! YES!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Paul

    People are still trying to bring in the "Illegals do jobs Americans won't" line. It makes me laugh. Americans were happily doing all these jobs before you snuck you illegal butt over the Rio Grande. The reason Americans are not doing these jobs now is illegals are working in unsafe conditions and for very little money. Companies hire illegals because they know they can abuse them without fear of being reported. I agree we need to go after companies that hire illegals. I would pay more from produce if the company assured me it was processed by legals. As for the 14 million illegals that want amnesty, go home. Hiding out illegally for 30 years means nothing to me. Like Ann said, the tide has turned. The American public has finally woekn up to the insanity of illegals in our country. Thank you Arizona for taking a stance! My next family vacation will be in Arizona to show my support. Although we won't be attending any Suns games.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Eric


    May 5, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. US Citizen

    Im so sick and tired of Liberals.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    So many of you people are hypocrites. I bet you all had something negative to say about Ben Roethlisberger because he is a role model, a public figure, correct? Then to read half you morons saying that they should keep sports and politics seperate...If they believe in something, then they are allowed to support it. I don't think half of you people understand the ramifications of this law. I'm from NY, white, and against this law. What should be done is find a way to make them legal immigrants. Not just have cops driving around profiling. Find a solution. Or is that to hard for the simple minded Arizonians. Now not only will you have all the spanish people banded together against all the closet "white supremicists" who support this law, your going to lose massive amounts of revenue because MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL is contemplating moving the ALL-STAR GAME because you people are sooooo wrong.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. lkj

    No, not showing balls, showing their other side. Ignorance. They are marketing this to their benefit. I'm guessing there will be new jerseys to sell at some point too.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. bethany

    You might have lost some fans, but know that you have also gained the RESPECT of many others!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    I should really check my messages before I post them. Sorry for all the typos.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Barrie

    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.

    What is wrong with the message! If you do something illegal, you're doing something wrong!I guess if he thought selling drugs wasn't a crime he'd have his kids selling on the block. There is NO difference

    May 5, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mr. Tea

    @ nostradamus

    Ummm...try again. The bulk of Arizona was ceded to the US as spoils of the Mexican-American War in 1847. The southern part of the state below the Gila river was purchased in 1853 in the Gadsden Purchase, forming the current AZ-Mex border.

    So, unless you know any ILLEGAL immigrants pushing 160 years old, your comment is BS.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chance

    Mr. Tea is right. It is ridilous that these people think they can come here and take our jobs. Nobody asked them to come here. This is a FREE country, but it wont be forevar if THEY keep taking our jobs. I support Arizona and all think the law is good protects REAL AMERICANS.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Greg

    Sports and politics have intertwined for years. Integration of all the leagues was just as political as social, and athletes with courage spoke out during the civil rights movement. Athletes, like all other persons (and now corporations) have free speech rights. If these athletes and their league offend you, boycott them if you want. However, please refrain from holier than thou statements. Free speech is free speech is free speech. You can share your opinions on this issue just as they can, but a boycott of the NBA may be as successful as a vegetarian boycott of the beef and chicken industries.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Wrighteous

    Close our borders to all immigrants! The United States already has enough of Americans people to support. And quite frankly, it is not only the Mexicans who are here illegally. There are a lot of immigrants of Europen descent who are here illegally as just don't hear about them and no one passes a law to ban them. I can personally attest to hearing from some of my "white" co-workers say they wait until midnight to buy groceries so no one will see them spending the food stamps that their immigrant relatives from Europe received. I don't want my tax dollars supporting anyone from another country. Let them stay in their own country!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    All of you idiots saying your boycotting the Suns..Are you going to stop watching Baseball? Huh?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. THer

    I agree fans should boycott the game. That would send a clear message.I would write this is spanish but don't know how.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
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