The Los Angeles Lakers are holding their very first Pride Night celebration on Thursday, Oct. 4. Not only will Lakers Pride Night attendees receive a free T-shirt, but there will be special guests and giveaways. The Lakers are the latest NBA team to put on a Pride Night, which is becoming increasingly common across several major league sports leagues.
On the night of Lakers Pride Night, the team will play the Sacramento Kings at the Staples Center. But in addition to the game, fans will also be treated to a number of special events. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles will sing the national anthem that night, and Violet Palmer, the first openly gay referee in the NBA, will act as the Lakers’ honorary team captain.
Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay active player, will also be on hand to receive the Laces of Unity Award in honor of his work as an NBA Cares Ambassador. There will also be a pre-game contest held by LAMBDA, the Los Angeles Gay Basketball League.
While Pride Nights have long been a staple of professional baseball, basketball lags behind. As of this year, every MLB team has its own Pride Night, with the New York Yankees being the last holdouts.
On the other hand, only a handful of NBA teams have held Pride Nights: the New York Knicks had their first this year in March, the Milwaukee Bucks had their second, also in March, while the Portland Trail Blazers‘ third annual Pride Night is taking place in November.
While Lakers Pride Night is one of the few Pride Nights in the NBA, the national organization has made other moves in support of the LGBTQ community. In 2016, the NBA pulled the All-Star Game from North Carolina over House Bill 2, the heinous “bathroom bill” legislation seeking to limit protections for trans citizens.