Pro basketball teams show pride

Black T-shirts with NBA team logos in rainbow colors (GLSEN)
NBA gay pride T-shirts (GLSEN)

As basketball fans follow the 2016 National Basketball Association finals, advocates for gay rights are already emerging as winners.

The best-of-seven series, which began June 2 in Oakland, California, pits the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cavs superstar LeBron James, widely considered the NBA’s best overall player, and the Warriors’ Stephen Curry, described by analysts as the greatest shooter in NBA history, lead their respective teams.

As they battle for the NBA championship, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people’s rights are being highlighted by NBA T-shirts featuring the logos of all 30 NBA teams rendered in rainbow colors. The shirts are a joint project of the NBA and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. (According to the Huffington Post, the shirts are available exclusively from Teespring, and the proceeds benefit the network.)

This marks the first time that a men’s professional sports league has issued gay pride T-shirts for every single team.

Previously, individual athletes within the NBA have publicly advocated for LGBTI rights — and for some, the issue is personal. The New York Daily News has reported on Denver Nuggets star forward Kenneth Faried’s support for Athlete Ally, an organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sports.

Faried, 26, was raised by two mothers in New Jersey who married in 2007. “I have two moms, and I love them both very much,” he said. “I respect, honor and support them in every way.”

The NBA believes such support matters in sports, in business and everywhere else.