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. MrsCfromLA

    Very good Phoenix! As a black woman, I am so appauled at this new law? But to us, this isn't something new. The police have harrassed black and brown people since they brought us (blacks) here and TOOK the brown peoples land! Now, I however have no problem with police officals arresting and deporting ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS! This is a definitely a serious problem in our country, but in no way do I condon police officials with going up to people asking for status paperwork, that is absolutely ridiculous! Police can't possibly tell who is LEGAL and who is ILLEGAL? This is a prime example of why Black and Brown people better start sticking together and figure out a way to overcome this issue!! Shame on you State of Arizona, Good for you Phoneix Suns!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Legal American

    Great comments folks. I agree with boycotting the game! Let's see how many illegals will purchase the tickets. I am proud that the state of Arizona has risen above our pathetic federal government and decided to do insure the safety and welfare of it's citizens.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Phillip

    what about the Illegals, whats is your problem Yankess with them you come to our contries and buy propeties and stay in our country leaving with out a problem ...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    Steve, what do you mean by "find a way to make them legal immigrants"? I suspect you mean give them all the right to stay. Then what do we do in 10 years when another 14 million illegals have come here? Should they be given the right to stay as well? If so, what's the point of even having borders and check points? The illegals need to be rounded up and sent home. End of story.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. jgriffin

    as if anyone really cares what those overpaid morons think!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. JimM

    #To the white broad who claims she is English, (or Irish, German, Polish, whatever) go back to Mexico. I doubt you are English, but if you are, your country is crying about the immigrants from Iran and all the Mediterranean, so you have no room to speak. Thats why I know this thread is written by a Mexican, using the usual come-back they hope will work. And no, white people don't get stopped because the come in the proper way and don't live across the border.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. US Citizen

    Steve you are an Idiot. You think who ever believes in USA Law is a racist. Im from Lebanon and i just want to come from Pasadena Ca and kick your ass.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Max

    Politics and Sports cant mix? Grow up everyone.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. Czeckers

    People, including the entire Los Suns organization, seem to have missed somthing. The imigration bill is not against coming into this country leagally, but those who chose to break the laws and break into our home (this country) ILLEGALLY! Every Friday in this city, about 100 immigrated people are made legal US citizens – I support that whole heartedly and I would hope that is what the Suns are supporting also. This bill is doing nothing more that to try to enforce the laws alredy in place.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. PoliGu

    Does my heart good to see so many people making comments that show they are not swayed by these people who play a sport for a living. The immigration policy in this country is far more lenient than the 36 countries those 400 players hail from in the story. All we ask is to enforce our laws to protect the citizens of this country against the workforce of another.

    I agree – show you solidarity and boycott the game. On TV too

    May 5, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Perdo X

    Word of caution to all. I personally know some officers in Arizona that assured me that many whites would be hurt by this law because those officers said they realize that there are tons of illegal Europeans in Arizona as well. they just don't get singled out because they don't fit the profile. But point is they assured me that for every Latino they pull over for this law they will pull over 2 whites. So have fun with that. Are there any native Americans on this post? if so tell me how do you feel about the illegal immigrants you guys encountered?

    May 5, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. I. Chowdhury

    I am so proud of them for doing this!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. nikki

    Go Suns! Fight xenophobia!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. Harold

    I'm their new fan.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mr. Tea

    @ Steve

    "Are you going to stop watching Baseball? Huh?"

    If they move the All Star Game, yes. Feel free to quote me.

    And before all you bedwetters start to pull out your favorite R word, I supported the NFL's decision to move the Super Bowl back in the 90's because of the MLK Day debacle. I will not support an organization that condones ILLEGAL behavior.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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