Homosexuality and gay rights have leaped to the forefront of the public discourse surrounding the NBA in recent weeks.
|Homosexuality and the NBA|
On Monday, Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Steve Nash added his voice to the discussion, by partnering with the Human Rights Campaign, a group that lobbies for equal rights, to release a video spot in support of a gay and lesbian marriage rights proposition in New York state.
In the spot, Nash looks into the camera to make a personal appeal to his fellow New Yorkers. "Hi, I'm Steve Nash," he begins. "I spend my summers in New York and I love playing at the Garden. A growing number of professional athletes are speaking out in support of gay and lesbian couples getting married. I'm proud to be one of them."
The video then cuts to a graphic that reads: "New Yorkers support full marriage equality. Do you?"
Then Nash concludes: "Join me and the supermajority of New Yorkers who support marriage equality."
Here's a look at the video.
The spot comes at a time of peak interest around the NBA.
Rick Welts, the president of the Suns, publicly revealed that he is gay recently. Charles Barkley said that all NBA players have played with gay teammates. Grant Hill and Jared Dudley filmed a public service announcement about how harmful the word "gay" can be when used in a derogatory manner. Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah have been caught on camera using gay slurs, sparking a discussion about the use of such language.
Steve Avery of the New York Rangers filmed a similar spot recently and drew criticism from some circles. ESPNNY.com reported that Avery's experience, as well as Welts' decision, led Nash to participate in the campaign.
Nash had been considering appearing in the video for months. According to HRC vice president of communications Fred Sainz, the NBA star ultimately timed the release to support Welts and New York Rangers forward Sean Avery, who experienced a backlash among hockey fans after making a similar video. NHL player agent Todd Reynolds called Avery's support for the issue "misguided." Many anonymous commenters on message boards harshly criticized Avery for his support of the proposition, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has advanced. Cuomo is hoping for a vote by legislators in June.When Bryant was fined $100,000 for his comments, NBA commissioner David Stern made his position on the issue clear: “Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable. While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. Accordingly, I have fined Kobe $100,000. Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society."