While the main story in Durham on Saturday was Jayson Tatum's highly anticipated debut in a Duke uniform, Duke's opponent had their own sartorial statement to make.
The Maine Black Bears used their road game at Duke as means for a gesture of support toward LGBTQ communities. Why the Duke game? Well, it's Duke of course. Optimal chance for attention to the cause. But also because of Duke's state of residence. Outgoing North Carolina governor Pat McCrory was a proponent of the HB2 bill that's been labeled as discriminatory of transgender people who prefer to use the bathroom of their chosen identity instead of what is on their birth certificate.
The bill is so controversial, the NCAA has moved all championships -- including the NCAA Tournament -- out of North Carolina, conceivably until the bill is eradicated. Other major events, like big-time concerts and the NBA All-Star Game, have also been indefinitely taken out of North Carolina.
Here are the rainbow-colored shirts Maine wore during its pregame warmups at Cameron Indoor.
You'll notice the America East logo there. That's because Maine's conference has a partnership with You Can Play, which specializes in social activism and aims to eliminate homophobia, transphobia and seeks inclusion for all people in all sports. The partnership has existed for years, but Saturday's game was the latest chance and perhaps most high-profile gesture, in the history collaboration between You Can Play and the America East.
CBS Sports spoke to 44-year-old Maine coach Bob Walsh, who had planned this with Maine's athletic director for months. The spark came in the summer after Albany, a state school in New York, was mandated to pull out of its season-opening game at Duke because of New York legislation preventing any "non-essential" state-funded business travel to North Carolina. This legislation was tied to HB2 and perceived discrimination therein. Maine preferred to make a humble statement and do more on the positive side.
"We agreed that pulling out of a game at Duke when Duke is against the law and Coach K came out against, really couldn't have an impact," Walsh said. "But what if we used it as a learning experience for our guys? I'm proud of our league and our school for the way we promote inclusion and equality. I never thought this was going to be a national headline, so I'm proud of our guys for understanding a different viewpoint they don't hear a lot about."
Maine received national attention earlier in the week, and that took Walsh by surprise. The shirts were intended to make a quiet, supportive statement. Since then, the team's expression of support with You Can Play has had reverberations -- positive ones.
"How powerful it can be to promote inclusion and equality to help show the LGBT community, the support they have and that they're not alone," Maine senior Marko Pirovic told CBS Sports. "Just seeing how much inequality there is in some LGBT communities such as in North Carolina with the new law that was passed was very shocking, and I'm glad we can do something to stand up against it. Being part of You Can Play to me means standing up and being an ally to help change the culture of how the LGBT community is treated and showing them the support they have from athletes everywhere."
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has been outspoken previously about his opposition to HB2, calling it "embarrassing." Many in North Carolina are, and it remains a weekly topic of discussion within that state.
The most poignant moment for Walsh came on Friday, when he got an important text from a former assistant: Chris Burns. Burns is now at Bryant. He made national headlines last year when he became the first men's college basketball coach to come out. At the time, Krzyzewski made a point to support Burns, whom he did not know.
"I know it was really, really important for Chris," Walsh said. "To me, that's something I want to thank him (Krzyzewski) for. He stood up for someone he didn't know and made him feel really, really good."
Burns felt the same with Walsh's action. It's not often a small school can make a national headline with an act that's not a big-time upset win, but Maine's statement on Saturday turned out to be one of the biggest in the sport.