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. Brian Paul

    Legal or Illegal is the question. If he is doing this in support of the illegal ones he is an idiot and has no idea what damage is being done to america.

    May 9, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Brian Paul

    I hope the Suns get swept in the next round. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid! I was cheering for those idiots!

    May 9, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Annette

    As an American, I work in a foreign country and follow the guidelines to the tee in order to work. Though I enjoy the tax free status of an American to some degree (I have to pay some taxes even though I do not live in the United States) ,I sacrifice the right to vote in a country that I reside. I carry my proof of right to work and travel, even after 17 years. I respect this country's invitation to work here as well as accept the benefits and sacrifices of not living in the beautiful Northwest where I was born.

    If you are a legal worker, you shoulld feel committed to prove you have that right until you choose to earn it through legal immigration. You use the roads and services of the country as a resident, then you should commit to paying that expense as a resident of that country. Once you pay your state and federal costs, you should be able to send the money to your family in any place in the world since you've earned it .

    Every country should be able to protect the jobs of its legal paying citizens who have paid or earned its way into the country. After 17 years, I am still paying for a foreign country residence, but I still know that America is home and appreciate it greatly, taxes or not. Annette

    May 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tuna74

    new green card elimanates the fakes

    May 13, 2010 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. ButPlease...

    With the NBAs strict dress code I'm surprised Stern didn't fine the players for this. Hmmm...

    May 16, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ramon F. Herrera

    "Los Suns" is not quite Spanish. It should be "Los Soles".

    May 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
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