The NBA and WNBA made professional sports history this Sunday by becoming the first leagues to march in and hold a float in the New York City Pride Parade. NBA commissioner Adam Silver, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, and WNBA president Lisa Borders marched alongside a group of league employees in support and celebration of the LGBTQ community.
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Silver and Tatum both wore #OrlandoUnited t-shirts to honor the victims of the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub, while various other employees and marchers donned shirts with rainbow-colored NBA team logos. Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay, and Sue Wicks, an ex-WNBA player and Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, were also among the participants.
Take a look at several photos from the NBA and WNBA portion of the march here:
The NBA’s involvement in the event is not notable in the context of the corporate world at large. The official NYC Pride website lists 85 sponsors, many of which rank among the most visible companies in the United States (if not the world), and parades in other major cities boast similar associations. The NBA is not a sponsor of NYC Pride, but it does not look out of place with many of these companies.
However, LGBTQ outreach is relatively rare in the world of big-time American sports. It should not come as a surprise that the NBA and WNBA were the first leagues to participate in NYC Pride in an official capacity. The NBA has been well ahead of the NFL, MLB, and NHL in supporting the community and has threatened to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if North Carolina does not rescind the sweepingly anti-queer law passed by the state legislature earlier this year. Meanwhile, several of the WNBA’s greatest players have come out as gay, although Wicks and others have often criticized the league for shying away from promoting such athletes earlier in its history.
It’s important not to credit the NBA and WNBA too much for marching in Sunday’s parade, particularly when it has been proven to be an uncontroversial and sometimes reputation-enhancing move for so many other corporations. Regardless, it’s nice to see this support in a sports landscape that still lags behind much of America in LGBTQ acceptance.
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