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. M

    I thought the word was "Record" not "Tecord."
    Need a proofreader? I'm available...

    May 6, 2010 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. matt

    if its wrong for los suns to use their first amendment rights in opposition of the immigration law then its equally as wrong for the arizona diamondbacks owner to give money to the GOP who wrote the law

    May 6, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. David

    Everyone complaining in this thread about illegals who aren't Native Americans are hypocrites.

    May 6, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jon Michael

    Let me begin my comment by stating that my wife is a Russian immigrant. My brother also married an immigrant from Ecuador. My family has hosted foreign exchange students from many countries around the world, including Central and South American countries (no our wives were not students who we hosted). I tell you this so you can understand that we are the polar opposite of racist. I fully support all hispanic and latino immigrants to come to this country through the proper channels. My wife and sister-in-law did it legally, so why do so many choose not to? Subsequently, why do so many people support these individuals and families who believe the law does not apply to them?

    That said, I do take issue with the Arizona law in that it might affect CITIZENS . We say we are only making suspected illegal immigrants demonstrate they are here legally. Well that could be anyone. If my sister-in-law speaks with an accent and looks like she comes from south of the border, an officer might ask her to prove she is here legally. But she has no papers to show...because she is a citizen. Does this mean she has to carry her American passport around at all times? If so, are we not then forcing only CERTAIN AMERICAN CITIZENS to carry proof of citizenship because they look or speak a certain way? I believe this violates the principal of equal protection.

    ALAS, I HAVE A SOLUTION: Create a standardized National Driver's License to replace State issued driver identification. LIsted on the USA driver's liscense is your State of Residency, and your status in the country (Citizen, Legal Permanent Resident, etc). You HAVE to carry your liscense to drive your car anyway, so we are not saying you have to carry your National ID with you at all times....we are just saying you have to carry your Federally issued Driver's Liscense whenever you drive. Clearly, only individuals in this country lawfully would be able to obtain an authentic Federal Driver's liscense. I think this would achieve the same goal as the new Arizona Immigration Law without all of the inequity. What does everyone think?

    May 6, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. mario

    viva mexico

    May 6, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jason

    I Spoke to my Aunt last night about this. She is not renewing her season tickets with the Suns because of it. LOL. Classic.

    May 6, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tonya

    The beginning is always the hardest part of anything we do, whether it be a change or just a simple project. Kudos to Arizona for starting a process that needed to start somewhere. If I had season tickets to the Suns, I would turn them back, too!

    May 6, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. robert

    You people are amazing! Your the same people that what something done with immigration, crime, jobs, etc. This law allows police in Arizona to demand proof of residency. If your here legally, and what this fix, you have nothing to fear. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling. You will not please both sides, for the country security this has to be done, Proponents say it’s a necessary response to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into the state.

    May 6, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jon Michael

    David...why does my concern about Illegal Aliens make this Dutch-American a hypocrite? Was there an immigration law in place by the Native Americans that my ancesotrs violated when they came to this land back in the mid-1500s? i don't think so. As a matter of fact, the Native Americans became avid trading partners of the Dutch during that period. I digress...logic and reason escape the ignorant.

    May 6, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. 5thGenTEX-MEX

    I want this law to pass.. I will be on the first flight to Arizona's border just to be questioned and PROVE them WRONG!!!
    Racial profiling doesn't work.. ANND they know this..
    That's why they included in BS1070 that wrongfully held peoples will be compensated up to $5000 per day in custody..
    "que dices??? no entiendo..?? oh!! Soy de CANCUN!!"
    [my oneway ticket to Mexico.. $350, days wrongfully held.. $$15,000, proving the racial matters included in this BS law.. PRICELESS!!!!!]

    May 6, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. PeteH

    Give me a break... Of course the NBA basket ball players support the Illegal Immigrant communitee.. They get thei cocaine & weed from these people. And such great spokesman, 30% of the players on these NBA teams are felons or have at least been convicted of feloneys. Like my Grand Parents always said, criminals support criminals!!!

    May 6, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. john

    this is so stupid...just like the heat doing wont see the mexican spanish team spelling their team name in english, so why do it? completely stupid

    May 6, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. JAJB

    Question, 5thGen: Do you intend to break some law that will cause them to stop you in the first place? Because if you actually read the law, you would know that they aren't going to stop you just for flying in to the state. (And exactly where on the border do you plan to fly to, anyway?) Also, even if you were questioned, do you plan to refuse to show them any sort of identification at all? How exactly do you think you are going to get arrested and held for three days, through no fault of your own?

    May 6, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. John

    If the Suns organization is so concerned over this legislation requiring people to provide proof of citizenship, then why do they ask me to show my ticket when I go to sit courtside? I am offended that they question my integrity and assume that I don not have a ticket for the seat I want to sit in.

    May 6, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. joe

    i wonder how all these people woud feel if 4000 or so didnt pay for the games and consesions just sneaked into the games .they would be thrownout or probably arrested for theft

    May 6, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
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