Members of the Westboro Baptist Chruch protested a new NBA policy against antigay slurs Sunday night outside game 3 of the league finals in Dallas.
KDAF-TV reports on the small, hour-long protest outside the American Airlines Center, which befuddled some fans who arrived to watch the Dallas Mavericks play the Miami Heat. The antigay Westboro Baptist Church criticized a new policy against gay slurs that already has resulted in fines for players including Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah.
"Now David Stern, the tyrant commissioner of the NBA is jamming a message down the throat of America that not only is it okay to be gay but you don't even want to use the word gay in a negative connotation," said protester Steve Drain, according to KDAF-TV.
While one spectator described the protest as "sad and ridiculous," one unidentified man rallied people in counterprotest, the station reported.
"Gay or straight, God will love you, gay or straight, gay or straight," he said. "John 3:16; whosoever believes in him. Not Republican, not Democrats, not straight people, whosoever believes in him."
In addition to the crackdown on antigay slurs, other developments in the past month have rapidly changed the conversation around gay issues in the NBA. Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts came out in May, followed by a video in support of marriage equality for the Human Rights Campaign by Suns point guard Steve Nash. Although no league player has come out yet, retired basketball star Charles Barkley added in recent weeks that he is certain he played with gay teammates during his career.