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 NBA.com 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 NBA.com.

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. JAJB

    Did I hit my post limit or something? Two rather innocuous posts in a row have failed to show up.

    May 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dreadlock

    probably this is the first post in a long time

    May 6, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JAJB

    @dreadlock: No problem, I actually thought that's what you meant, just wanted to clear that up.

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

    @Guess Who: Actually, can you be more specific? Exactly what is your point?

    And are you implying that the native Americans who lived in, say, what is now New York (such as the Iriquois people) considered themselves to be the same nation as, say, the Mayans or Aztecs? And which of these do you think most mestizos came from?

    May 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dreadlock

    No problem lol

    May 6, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dreadlock

    I think that the real owners are the redskins etc

    May 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JAJB

    You mean the football team from Washington D.C., U.S.A.? Dang, I knew it!

    (Actually, you probably didn't realize that the term "redskin", although once in common use, is now considered by many to be offensive.)

    May 6, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dreadlock

    from the US for the Mexicans and more Mayans, Aztecs and incas

    May 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dreadlock

    I am not trying to be offensive no not the team the real native Redskins

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

    Oh, I know you're not meaning to be offensive, just wanted to give you a heads up. And yeah, I know you meant native Americans. I was just joking about the team. 🙂

    May 6, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shar

    HOW DARE ARIZONA PROTECT ITSELF??
    WHAT DOES A RICH NBA OWNER KNOW ABOUT FRONT LINE OF DEFENSE??
    CHARLES BARKLEY IS A DISGUSTING HUMAN BEING – WHO LISTENS TO HIM??
    PUT THESE FREAKIN' RICH MEN ON THE BORDER – GUESS WHAT THEY WOULD THINK THEN??
    DO YA THINK I WILL EEEEVVVVVEEEERRR ATTEND ANOTHER NBA GAME AFTER THEM STICKIN' THEIR PC NOSES WHERE IT DOES NOT BELONG?? nooooooooooo
    TO ANSWER THE FIRST QUESTION – YES – THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES YOU IGNORAMUSES!! (NAME CALLING INTENDED – YOU GET IT BECAUSE IT IS WHAT HAPPENS AT YOUR STUPID GAMES)

    May 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Audri

    I don't undertand why most American's comments are full of hate. I almost feel sorry for you. It makes me so disgusted inside. Always complaining always whining about everything. Nothing ever makes you happy. My parents brought me up to accept people as they are, never grew up hating others. I have friends from different cultural backgrounds that include asian, middle eastern, white, black, hispanic etc. I love to learn about their way of living the diversity they bring to his country. If the Suns want to wear Jerseys that say whatever they want, let them. Why make such a big deal about everything, as if the world is going to end. So ridiculous that you would pour all you bad energy into to it. God bless America that has given all my family oppurtunies that we wouldn't have had in Mexico, believe me we worked hard. And yes my whole family is legal and fyi have never gotten help from anyone including the government to get where we are now. Peace!

    May 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shar

    WOW – SORRY YOU FEEL DISGUSTED. NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL DISGUSTED YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT. YOU THINK OTHERS ARE FULL OF HATE – MY MOM SAID – WHAT YOU SAY IS WHAT YOU ARE. YOU LABEL OTHERS HATEFUL AND YOU THINK THAT IS WHAT – KIND??????? I THINK YOUR BAD ENERGY IS CAUSING YOU ANXIETY RIGHT ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE. I COMMEND YOUR FAMILY FOR BEING LEGAL (WOW – A NEW CONCEPT LIKE THAT IS A GOOD THING?), FOR NEVER RELYING ON THE GOV'T. (WOW – THE GOV'T SAFETY NET IS A GOOD THING – THESE PEOPLE MAKING IT A WAY OF LIFE IS A BAD THING), AND WOW YOU ACTUALLY SAY GOD BLESS AMERICA WHEN THESE OTHER PEOPLE WANT TO CONVERT THIS COUNTRY TO MEXICO (BE MEXICAN – ILLEGAL – FLY THE MEXICAN FLAG – NOT PAY TAXES – FREE EVERYTHING). MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY – FOR REAL. FROM ONE AMERICAN TO ANOTHER.

    May 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Audri

    Who's "these people"? Last time I looked when I worked for a governent agency, the majority of people recieving it were not mexican. I'm just saying this stereotyping is very offensive, and not all people are the same. Just like I don't view all Americans to be negative as my friends & family are not that way. I also pay taxes as do my family and I am very offended of how Americans live off the government. FYI illegals can't get government assitance, they have to have a ss# and the goverment agency does check the ss# to make sure they belong to that person. Nobody is coverting the US into Mexico, that is pretty absurd. I speak fluent spanish and english and I am very proud that I have the midxture of both in me being American with Mexican decent. I am grateful however of what I do have and the wonderful people that surround me in my life and that I don't associate with people like yourself.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Leigh Madden

    This is not rocket science. If you have gone through the proper procedures to become a "legal" citizen of the U.S. (NO MATTER WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE FROM), then you should not have a problem with the new Arizona imigration law...you should not have a problem with "showing your papers" if asked to do so. Sorry, but that is just the way it is these days (for one thing, you can blame the Mexican "drug cartel" for some of this if you feel the need to point fingers at someone/something). What is the difference between having to prove that you are a "legal" citizen and having to show a passport when you travel abroad...NOTHING, absolutely nothing because you know this BEFORE YOU CHOSE TO TRAVEL!!!! I would not have a problem if I were "a legal citizen" if someone asked me to prove it because I would understand that this is "their laws" in this country...it has absolutely NOTHING to do with race...it is a "legal" vs. "illegal" thing PERIOD!! Hey, if you don't like it, go back to your own country. Don't come here (especially "illegally") and try to change us. No other country that I know of would put up with this crap.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
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