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. Patriot 48602

    Why is CNN catering to the plight of these lawbreakers. In the words of the great Neal Bortz, is CNN "Hispandering"? How can we justify anarchy with this lawlessness. We have laws for a reason. They are not suggestions. I would love to go to court and use the defense of everbody else is doing it so why cant I. Take down those speed limit signs. Let's all drive drunk, the law is only a suggestion. CNN knows how many hispanics watch their coverage of this issue and they are only catering to the masses, which consequently have no legal voice in an American government. What is next? Do we grant illegals the right to vote and bear arms? Seriously people, it is the middle of a recession; 16 million people are out of work. The party needs to end, the guest need to leave so we can return to lower unemployment numbers. Anybody with any sort of education should understand a supply and demand curve. When these workers leave, jobs will open up everywhere. They will have to pay more because they can not game our system any longer. Just do the right thing.

    May 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Microbial

    If they enact a law that also targets Canadian illegal immigrants they'll have to create a new jersey:

    Los Suns, eh?!

    May 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AmericanPride

    This just blows my mind. I will never support or watch anything the Suns are involved with. You definitely lost my support. We are Americans and any American has to show his drivers license or identification if police ask and often times simply because someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time. This issue arises because people are afraid of getting caught in their wrong doing. If you aren't doing wrong, don't fear it and move on.

    May 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MML

    Safe to say none of the Suns players are illegal immigrants, so why even bother? Does the franchise hire illegals for other roles?
    In the end, if you won't follow the steps to legally immigrate, then GTFO. If you do, welcome!
    That's it. It's really not grounds for the overly dramatic rhetoric coming from both sides on this one.

    May 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    Who cares what NBA players think anyway. If the people in Arizonia suppoted the law, as they should, and boycotted the game the owner of the Suns and the NBA commissioner would soon change their tune. Nobody is saying immigrants can not come to this country, they just need to do it legally. Is that really to much to ask. I feel for Arizonia. Too close to Mexico, just like California.

    May 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ben

    I threw away my two Suns jerseys and will not purchase season tickets next year.

    May 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. behemoth

    North Americans(US) Can kiss my big Fuc*****king A*******ss Europe rules

    May 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. behemoth

    all of them crying because the new law come on please ...

    May 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JAJB

    @Microbial (post #1251): Well, since this law targets illegal immigrants without regard to country of origin, Arizona already has that, don't they! 🙂

    May 8, 2010 at 3:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bill Trent

    I have purchased my last ticket to watch the Suns. It now seems we have just another unnecessary political advisor. I sure don't need your team's advice.

    Thanks for nothing,
    Bill Trent

    May 8, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ron

    I am as american as apple pie, born & raised ... 4 combat tours of vietnam .. did my duty ... FOR THIS FROM THE GOOD FOLKS OF ARIZONA ( yep you elected the signers of the bill ) ...?

    I am married to a American with Mexican ancestry.

    What is next? We have this racist law now .. we are going to put up a Big time Border fence .

    I am ashamed of our country. The fence reminds me that we are becoming a new East Germany. I think I should find an old WWII photo of nazis stopping jews on the street and checking papers .. modify the jewish armband to be the Mexican Flag, and label it WELCOME TO ARIZONA and post it.

    Totally disgusted ... USA is prison at the end of the trip now instead of the international melting pot I was raised to believe was a source of our national heritage.

    May 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      If you are ashamed of this country, why don't you leave? Just do not enter and stay in Mexico illegally, you will not like the consequences.

      May 16, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FUC

    yeah Mr Ron I support you

    May 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pierre

    I completely agree with Nash. Given his tax bracket and profession, he surely brings a “real world” perspective to US immigration issues.
    In support, I recently decided swim across a narrow river to a better life in Canada! I heard there was free health care, friendly people and plenty of Govt. subsidies. I found a great job driving a Zamboni at a local hockey arena and I was always paid in cash! Life was so great in my new Country that I decided to invite my entire extended family to join me. One day, I was involved in a traffic accident and a cop asked me for my ID (can you believe it)?! I didn’t have any so he arrested me and told me to go back to the U. S. I felt this decision was unfair so my American friends and I went to Toronto to protest. The protest was successful and several members of the Toronto Raptors spoke out in our favor! On July 4, the team owner plans to change the team’s colors to red, white and blue! We plan to stay for a long time; we LOVE Canada!! Thanks Steve Nash!!

    May 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. casual observer

    dont like it leave.........

    May 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. paul rondo

    get a life everyone im only on to do homework

    May 9, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
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