Basketball: NZ Breakers embrace ANBL Pride Round, will wear special jersey to face Brisbane Bullets

NZ Breakers are embracing the Australian NBL's Pride Round, as they prepare to don a special singlet to face Brisbane Bullets on Thursday night.

For the first time, the next round of the competition will "promote, celebrate and give thanks to the LGBTQ community, while showcasing basketball as a sport striving to provide a safe, healthy and accessible environment for all". 

All courts will display pride logos, while players and staff of all clubs have the opportunity to take part in awareness training.

NZ Breakers' pride jersey.
NZ Breakers' pride jersey. Photo credit: Newshub

Last year, Melbourne United forward Isaac Humphries came out as the league's first openly gay player.

But a similar promotion during the 2022 NRL season saw Manly Sea Eagles divided by a pride jersey and a lack of consultation with its players, and there has also been resistance within basketball.

Some Cairns Taipans players won't wear the rainbow logo on their jersey, due to their religious beliefs.

As a result, the ANBL will not force the Taipans to wear their pride singlet, when they face South East Melbourne Phoenix on Wednesday, but the Breakers players have greeted the occasion with complete acceptance and willingness to participate. 

"It's something that the league has prepared other teams for," said coach Mody Maor. "We went through pride education in sports a few weeks ago and I felt we addressed it in the right manner in the group.

"We're all in on everyone feeling like they belong in a basketball arena in a basketball jersey.

"It doesn't matter what's out of the sport. I'm happy the NBL has taken the step.

"We had no issues, but I don't think having no issues is the accomplishment. Discussing issues is the accomplishment."

Last year's Manly Eagles debacle ultimately derailed the team's NRL hopes.

After the boycott by seven players, the team didn't win another game and coach Des Hasler left the club, reportedly considering legal action against his former employers.

Maor emphasises that the purpose of pride round isn't to force players to wear the jerseys, but to encourage discussion on why such an occasion is needed within the sport.

"I don't think that it being 'cool' or 'good' comes from the fact that everybody buys in. I think it comes from the fact that the world now is in a place where we can have a discussion about this.

"Where, even if it's not something that you're cool with, then we can talk about it, explain, educate and organise.

"It's not something that needs to be swept under the rug, it's actually something that you put under the spotlight.

"It's OK if it comes with challenges, but those challenges are met in an adult and challenging way. That's the whole idea around this thing."