Pride jersey drama hits NBL as Cairns Taipans players push back on rainbow logo for South East Melbourne Phoenix match

A pride jersey drama has emerged in the NBL with a number of Cairns Taipans players reportedly ‘hesitant’ to wear a rainbow logo on their singlets during an upcoming Pride Round clash.

News Corp is reporting several Taipans players are considering not wearing the logo on their singlets due to their religious beliefs.

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The NBL will reportedly not force the players to wear the logo for the Taipans’ upcoming match against the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Therefore the Taipans players will still take the court against the Phoenix, just minus the rainbow logo their teammates will be wearing.

The drama comes after the NBL launched its pride round on Monday and months after a pride jersey scandal derailed Manly’s season in the NRL.

Seven players stood down from the Sea Eagles’ Round 20 match against the Sydney Roosters in 2022 because they opposed the rainbow jersey on religious and cultural grounds.

The Sea Eagles then ended their season with seven consecutive losses, missing out on finals and sparking rumours of discontent within the Manly camp.

Two-time premiership winning coach Des Hasler was axed in the off-season following the debacle, with incoming coach Anthony Seibold needing to unite a divided squad in his first pre-season with the club.

Meanwhile, the US has also been hit with a pride jersey drama in recent times with Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey star Ivan Provorov refusing to wear a pride jersey or use sticks wrapped in rainbow tape for an annual pride night fixture.

Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox beliefs, telling reporters he chose to “stay true to myself and my religion”.

“I respect everybody’s choices,” he said.

The Flyers have hosted the annual Pride Night fixture before, with players using rainbow tape on their sticks (with Provorov abstaining in the past).

2023 marks the first time the organisation wore pride jerseys, reportedly a player-driven initiative to signify their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Provorov’s Flyers teammates Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk have been staunch supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, partnering with non-profits in Philadelphia and hosting members of the community at every home game, providing them with signed merchandise and complimentary tickets.

Laughton told local publication Broad Street Hockey that “it doesn’t matter who you love at the end of the day, if you want to play hockey, you should be able to, and that’s the biggest part of (Pride Night)”.

Kurt Weaver, COO of the NHL’s social activism partner You Can Play, said Provorov’s actions “negatively impacted” understanding and inclusion in the sport.

“It’s disappointing to see that’s the outcome from this.”

The Flyers released a statement after the game, saying: “The Flyers organisation is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community.

“Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organisations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year.

“The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”

The NHL said in a statement that players were “free to decide which initiatives to support.”

“We continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”

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