In May 2014, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) created a new national platform celebrating inclusion and equality, while combating anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bias. The WNBA campaign message is summed up as “Let’s support a world where every athlete can be proud of who they are, proud of where they’ve been, and proud of what’s to come”, using the hashtag #ProudToPlay.
On Thursday, July 24th, the Los Angeles Sparks played in a home game against the Phoenix Mercury. Brittney Griner, the open lesbian WNBA center for Phoenix Mercury made a big show during her debut game dunking twice against the Chicago Sky. Compared her debut, Griner seemed preoccupied and not at her best during the Thursday game against the Sparks. However, Phoenix scored big during the first half and consistently led by 20 points, making the final score Sparks 73 to Phoenix 93. This is the Phoenix Mercury’s 14th straight win.
Brand new Sparks Head Coach, Penny Toler tells GO, “They’re not just destroying us, they’re destroying everybody.”
Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks was named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Player of the Week for games played June 24 through June 29, 2014. During this game against Mercury, she was on fire and scored 23 points. When asked her thoughts about WNBA Pride, she tells GO, “It provides for a safer environment.”
Although Phoenix won, Ogwumike was still all smiles and energy. “We got down early so we had to fight back”.
Candice Parker, the star player of the Sparks was visibly not in a good mood during the small press conference following the game. However, she took some time to talk to GO about her feelings towards LGBT marketing in the WNBA. “I am glad they are marketing towards it. It’s a good thing,” she says.