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NBL Pride Round 2023: Cairns lashes out at media over pride … – Code

The coach of the NBL club who refused to wear the Pride Round rainbow logo has defended his players’ decisions has suggested it doesn’t mean his team doesn’t support the initiative.
Cairns Taipans coach Adam Forde has shut down questions about his players’ refusal to wear the NBL’s rainbow logo during Pride Round as a storm grips the league.
Following the Taipans’ 85-80 loss to South East Melbourne on Wednesday night Forde twice interjected during his post-game press conference when guard Ben Ayre was asked about the team’s stance.
Earlier Wednesday, the club issued a pair of statements, one which read the Cairns playing group had resolved to “collectively opt out” of wearing the insignia, following a negative response to reports some Taipans were wrestling with the decision on religious grounds.
Forde called the league’s Pride Round “perfect” but believed the players’ decision to shun the logo did not diminish the club’s support for the initiative.
“We’re doing this because we got around our brothers and we want to protect each other and rather than feel like we’re getting singled out for any particular reason, this is us, right, and I’m proud of them for it,” Forde said.
Asked if he understood why there had been pushback against the players, if coaches considered joining the players in their stance and how he felt about the NBL initiative, given the playing group was upset it had set some players up to be “vilified”, Forde said “the statements explain everything”.
When Ayre was asked if there was anxiety in the group and if he could give an insight into how the playing group reached its decision, Forde reiterated the club was supportive of the Pride Round message, but was “trying to avoid” “targeted attacks”, before shutting down further questions about the issue.
It comes as three-time All NBL First teamer and former Illawarra captain AJ Ogilvy weighed in on the issue.
“To everyone who said “the @NBL doesn’t need a pride round” – this is why they do,” Ogilvy wrote, with a retweet of one of the Taipans’ statements.
To everyone who said “the @NBL doesn’t need a pride round†– this is why they do. 😒 https://t.co/DAHugC5IiT
The league left the decision to wear the logo up to each individual player, but the Taipans felt they had “no choice” after “a barrage of abuse and harmful commentary that has led to individuals being targeted and shamed” and called for understanding.
Following the Taipans’ move NBL owner Larry Kestelman reiterated the league had “not mandated that our players have to wear the pride jersey”.
“The NBL fully respects and understands that there may be people in the community with different views to those being conveyed through the Champion Pride Round,” Kestelman said. “If any player or team elect not to wear the jersey, we will respect that decision.”
The State Basketball Centre court featured two huge Champion rainbow logos within each free throw line circle and adorned each Phoenix jersey in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community but were omitted from the Taipans singlets.
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said while his club had embraced Pride Round, ostracising the Taipans would not be productive for anyone.
“What this round does it opens dialogue and I think we leave Cairns alone, just let them do their thing and hopefully, over time, whoever feels like they can’t celebrate this round can be educated enough to realise that ‘hey, we’re really just holding out our hand to our brothers and sisters out there and we’re looking out for our community’.”
Alan Williams was proud his club embraced the Pride Round celebration.
“I know how much it means to everyone … we went all out, we showed our support and I think that the community appreciates that,” Williams said.
“I find it an honour to be able to play in … a round like this because it’s super significant to a lot of people who feel under-represented.”
The NBL has been thrust into further turmoil over its Pride Round initiative after the Cairns Taipans refused to wear the league’s rainbow logo. All South East Melbourne players, during Wednesday night’s 85-80 win, donned the small Champion rainbow insignia in the centre of their jerseys but the Cairns playing group “collectively” opted out after a negative response to reports some Taipans were wrestling with the decision on religious grounds.
The league left the decision to wear the logo up to each individual player, but the Taipans felt they had “no choice” after “a barrage of abuse and harmful commentary that has led to individuals being targeted and shamed” and called for understanding. The Cairns group was upset the league initiative had set some players up to be “vilified”.
“This is a negative distraction to what should be a positive experience across the game, and now we feel as though our only choice as a team is to collectively opt out of this season’s uniforms,” a club statement, issued shortly before Wednesday night’s clash with South East Melbourne and signed off by the 11-man Taipans’ roster, read.
“This is not a reflection of our individual stances or personal views, but a protection of our brothers that are being set up to be vilified and no longer feel as though they have a safe space in our sport.
“Positive change requires positive action, and we believe we can champion different people and groups in our society without persecuting others in the process.
“We hope everyone finds it in their hearts to understand.”
The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans share this message on behalf of the playing group. pic.twitter.com/i11zdfyfbj
News Corp, in an exclusive report on Monday, revealed the NBL’s celebration of the LGBTQ+ community would feature rainbow pride logos on all courts during round 17 and players had been invited to wear the small icon on their jerseys and participate in awareness training.
Following the Taipans’ move to shun wearing the logo, NBL owner Larry Kestelman reiterated the league had “not mandated that our players have to wear the pride jersey”.
“The NBL fully respects and understands that there may be people in the community with different views to those being conveyed through the Champion Pride Round,” Kestelman said. “If any player or team elect not to wear the jersey, we will respect that decision.”
Earlier Wednesday, the club lashed out over the reporting of the players’ hesitancy to wear the logo. The club believed attention on its conflicted players shifted the focus away from the Pride Round initiative.
“It has been disappointing that instead of focusing on the LGBTQ community and the positivity around the initiative, some media commentary has instead focused on players who may be conflicted because of religious beliefs or personal circumstances,” the statement read.
“The club hopes its fanbase and the wider basketball community will embrace the inclusivity that Pride Round is championing in a constructive way and celebrates diversity in our society and our sport.
“We support our players and respect their choice to wear or not wear the pride uniforms this season, without judgement.”
The Taipans said all the clubs players, coaches, chief executive Mark Beecroft, club operations and board representatives had participated in a 90-minute Pride in Sport training session.
NBL club Cairns has lashed out over reports some of its players could decline to wear the league’s pride logo on their jerseys in tonight’s clash with South East Melbourne.
The club believes attention on its conflicted players shifted the focus away from the league’s Pride Round initiative.
News Corp, in an exclusive report on Monday, revealed the NBL’s celebration of the LGBTQ+ community would feature rainbow pride logos on all courts during round 17 and players had been invited to wear the small icon on their jerseys and participate in awareness training.
News Corp also reported the league would not force any player to wear the logo, provided by sponsor Champion, before later revealing some Taipans players were hesitant, citing religious and personal grounds.
The Taipans, on Wednesday ahead of their clash with South East Melbourne, released a statement expressing disappointment that reporting of their players’ hesitancy to wear the rainbow branding had shifted focus from the round’s chief purpose.
“It has been disappointing that instead of focusing on the LGBTQ community and the positivity around the initiative, some media commentary has instead focused on players who may be conflicted because of religious beliefs or personal circumstances,” the statement read.
“The club hopes its fanbase and the wider basketball community will embrace the inclusivity that Pride Round is championing in a constructive way and celebrates diversity in our society and our sport.
“We support our players and respect their choice to wear or not wear the pride uniforms this season, without judgement.”
The Taipans said all the clubs players, coaches, chief executive Mark Beecroft, club operations and board representatives had participated in a 90-minute Pride in Sport training session.
Coach Adam Forde defended his charges’ freedom of choice and urged no individual be “segregated” if they didn’t comply.
With all eyes on the Cairns Taipans as several players wrestle with the decision to wear the NBL’s Pride Round logo, Taipans coach Adam Forde has defended his men, while opposition mentor Simon Mitchell has called for understanding.
News Corp, on Monday, revealed some Taipans players were hesitant to don the league’s rainbow pride insignia on their jerseys during Wednesday night’s finals-shaping clash with the Phoenix, citing religious beliefs.
Forde said he supported the NBL’s initiative, which left the decision to wear the logo in the hands of each individual player, but defended his charges’ freedom of choice and urged no individual be “segregated” if they didn’t comply.
“It’s a great initiative by the NBL,” Forde said.
“We’re about inclusion and freedom of choice – live and let live.
“This is the beauty of what the message is, everybody has freedom of choice that they can be comfortable with themselves and not be segregated or excluded because of it.”
Mitchell, whose players Mitch Creek, Ryan Broekhoff and Owen Foxwell were at the forefront of the league’s Monday announcement of the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, said enlightenment could not be “thrust” on people.
“We’re trying to get to a place in our society where we are tolerant of each other, caring of each other, wishing the best for each other and hoping we can help each other along the way,” Mitchell said.
“I just feel like sometimes people get to that point at different stages of their life.
“I don’t think we can thrust enlightenment upon people — they’ve got to find it.
“Religion or organised religion and beliefs based upon it is a difficult road to navigate.
“I’m not a remotely religious man, but I hope we deal with these players with all the respect that they deserve and hopefully at some point in time they come to acknowledge that supporting other groups in our community doesn’t necessarily mean you’re adopting a lifestyle or giving up your beliefs.
“It’s having empathy for the plight of our fellow humans and hoping for the best for everybody.”
Courts during round 17 will feature Champion’s rainbow pride logo and players have the option of wearing the logo on their playing singlets.
Mitchell revealed his team, which currently sits sixth in a glut of teams chasing a finals spot, would be without injured forward Ryan Broekhoff for the last two games of the season.
But the gun marksman, who, on Sunday strained his adductor in the process of pouring 26 points on Perth, could return for the play-in game — if the Phoenix make it.
“We’re better off than what we thought but, having said that, we still don’t have him for two important games and he’ll only be healthy once we qualify,” Mitchell said.
Originally published as NBL 2023: Cairns Taipans refuse to wear rainbow logo, claim ‘vilification’ of hesitant players
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