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. Dave in Chicago

    I would like to know if all the folks that are on the streets protesting this AZ law ever heard of Ellis Island? Remember when the boats came in from Europe and all the passengers had to wait in line for hours and days to register into the United States to gain LEGAL access to this country. Funny how the majority of the protestors are actually the one's that are illegal. If you are not in this country LEGALLY, then you are an illiegal alien plain and simple. Check yourself's at the border on your way out and then come back through the proper channels. I do not remember the Irish, Italian and German immigrants tunnelling under the boarder to gain access to the United States. I also do not recall Europeans hiding in trunks, hiding in hidden dead spots in wheel wells to gain access to the United States. Something has to be done to curb this epidemic and I am glad AZ finally stood up and said enough is enough.

    May 6, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. keshia

    @ least they are taking a stand... why must people always complain! They're doing the right thing... is anything ever good enough? Good on you Phoenix Suns & Mr. Stern for backing them up 🙂

    May 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 5thGenTEX-MEX

    @JAJB.. I guess I will break the law once it becomes illegal to look Mexican.. because that I do everyday.. 🙂

    May 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mexicansong

    Wow, some of you are real idiots. The problem with the law is that it gives an officer the right to ask any person in Arizona for identification, on-the-spot. Do you think they're going to ask white people. No, they're going to ask any person of brown skin, and ask it repeatedly. So if you are a citizen of the US or here legally, but have skin of a darker shade, you're going to be hassled and insulted all the time! And as far as a team taking a stand, what's the difference of the players, owners, etc. making their thoughts known and you racist jerks posting to this blog. There's still the right of free speech in AZ, or are you jerks trying to get that changed as well because people have an opposing view and are courageous enough to voice it?

    May 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dr. D

    It doesn't bother me that the players are taking a stand. It's no different than wearing a colored arm band for other causes. This immigration law in Arizona is bigger than politics, it inferences racism, segregation and that same old "recessive" mentality some people get when they don't feel like the majority. What if the native Americans had implemented this same law? The United States would be filled with beautiful people of color who respect nature and humanity! Scary to read this kind of thinking, right? That's what this law is kind of people are preferred over another.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John H.

    Deja vu..... over and over again the issue of illegal immigration is turned into a discrimination issue and that is so wrong. Doesn't anyone on the oppostion side understand the word ILLEGAL? I am all for LEGAL immigration which is just as discriminatory by the opposition's own definition because it singles out foreigners. The coincidence of race with foreign status is being manipulated to distort the logic and reasoning and justification for the courageous Arizona action and leadership. When I'm in Europe I better be carrying my papers. When in the US I believe you should also be carrying papers, citizen or not!!!! Profiling is so weak of an excuse. There's another issue of coincidence. Don't let the argument become a racist issue when its a purely legal issue of residence and citizenship......

    May 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JAJB

    5thGen: Well, no worries for you then, since it isn't (and won't become) illegal to look Mexican.

    mexicansong: Just wondering... did you actually read SB 1070? Or are you just reacting to what you have heard others say about it?

    As for the team taking a stand: well, I have no problem with any of the team members, coaches, owners, etc. practicing their right to free speech. Heck, they can say whatever they want; I just prefer that they do it as private citizens. Otherwise, they are by implication representing the entire city of Phoenix. And what if even one team member disagrees with the stance that the team is taking on this? His voice is now effectively silenced, especially if he does not want to become an outcast in his own team. Bottom line: the individuals can practice free speech, but the organization should not have.

    As for the original purpose of the "Los Suns" jerseys, OTHER THAN acting as a protest, they were intended to honor the local Latino community, and for THAT, I applaud them. I just wish they had not decided to also turn it into a political statement.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dr. D

    Now John, I already know you are of the alleged majority in this country just based on your "colorless" comment. I see color and so do you – if you were being real. If you take the time to look at the statistics, since you are a proponent of the premise of legality, look at all the white people who enter this country"illegally" but given permission to stay compared to African, Latino/Hispanic persons. If you read the Immigration and Naturalization laws, you would see how they are skewed white, meaning, actually allowing more Caucasian people into the country per year than people of color. Your perception error of this issue goes to the root of the problem. Realists of all races and people of color particularly are no longer going to sit dormant while western/white powers and principalities feed us racists laws that repress our right as human beings to prosper. Just like the rise and fall of ancient Rome, the reign is over.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jessica

    Have you never considered the wealthy self-interests responsible for our immigration laws?

    The fact that individuals still desire to immigrate to our paradise and risk so much to do so is an honor for our country. And for people like you who ignorantly claim that such "illegals" are a drain on our system, because of the flawed logic that it may cost taxpayers more to support immigrant labor, I propose the following. Stop hiding behind your xenophobic laws and LEAVE. That's right, love it or leave it. And to welcome all is the spirit upon which our country was founded.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian

    In response to the woman's sign reading "I am Mexican and I am not running" well we don't want you to run if your legal. We want you to enjoy your life as an American Citizen. If your illlegal, well then run and run fast and come here the legal way.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Matthew

    Since the media and other liberals want to ban Arizona for passing a law to be able to do what the Federal government's law does, I think we should ban the Phoenix Suns too.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JAJB

    Dr. D; Where did John say "colorless"? Did a post get removed and I missed it completely?
    I hate when that happens...

    May 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dreadlock

    well well well is Mr JAJB

    May 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JAJB

    Dr. D; Any chance you could point me to the part (or parts) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that is skewed toward Caucasions? I haven't found it yet.


    Also, which illegal white people are you referring to here when you said "...look at all the white people who enter this country"illegally" but given permission to stay compared to African, Latino/Hispanic persons."?

    May 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JAJB

    Hi dreadlock, how are you today?
    Yes, this is me. I take it you have either spoken to me, or read something from me before?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
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