Maine Wears Rainbow Warm-Up Shirts vs. Duke to Protest North Carolina's HB2 Law

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2016

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 03:  Ilker Er #21 of the Maine Black Bears reacts after a basket against the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Prior to Saturday's game at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke, Maine's basketball team took the court wearing rainbow-colored warm-up shirts in protest of North Carolina's controversial HB2 law. 

Basketball writer Shawn Krest captured an image of most of the Black Bears players wearing the shirt:

Maine head coach Bob Walsh explained after the game why his team took this approach. 

"It was about promoting inclusion and promoting equality and our guys understanding that they can make an impact," Walsh said, per Lauren Brownlow of 99.9 The Fan. 

Per Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com, the use of the America East logo on the shirt was likely a deliberate choice from Maine:

You'll notice the America East logo there. That's because Maine's conference has a partnership with You Can Play, which specializes in social activism and aims to eliminate homophobia, transphobia and seeks inclusion for all people in all sports. The partnership has existed for years, but Saturday's game was the latest chance and perhaps most high-profile gesture, in the history collaboration between You Can Play and the America East.

Maine forward Marko Pirovic told Norlander about the decision:

Just seeing how much inequality there is in some LGBT communities such as in North Carolina with the new law that was passed was very shocking, and I'm glad we can do something to stand up against it. Being part of You Can Play to me means standing up and being an ally to help change the culture of how the LGBT community is treated and showing them the support they have from athletes everywhere.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory put House Bill 2 into effect in March. It limits LGBTQ protections and prevents transgender individuals from using restrooms specific to the gender with which they identify. 

There has been significant blowback from the sports world as a result of McCrory's decision. The NBA moved its All-Star Game scheduled to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, and later announced New Orleans as the new host for February's event.

The NCAA followed suit by announcing it was moving seven championship events in different sports from the state of North Carolina.