Maine players send HB2 message before playing Duke

Most members of the team wore rainbow warmups

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
The University of Maine's basketball team sports shirts in protest of North Carolina's House Bill 2 before the first half of the college basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham

For the third time this season, North Carolina’s HB2 law has been an issue with Duke’s men’s basketball schedule. Prior to the season, Albany cancelled a trip to play the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the opening game of the season. The team was supporting New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s edict prohibiting non-essential travel to North Carolina, in protest of the bill. Albany was replaced on the schedule by Marist. Several of Marist’s players wore rainbow socks in the game, showing support for the LGBT community who many feel are targeted by the bill. Maine, whose team played at Cameron on Saturday, also considered cancelling the game in protest of the bill. Instead, the program and university used the game as a platform to make a statement against the bill. Most of the players wore specially-made rainbow warm-up jerseys before the game, during shootaround and pregame warm-ups. The jerseys bore the logo of the America East conference, of which Maine is a member, showing that the school didn’t stand alone in its position. “For us, this was about a learning experience for our
guys,” Maine coach Bob Walsh said. “It was about promoting inclusion and promoting equality and our guys understanding that
the you can make an impact. We were really standing with Duke. Duke University and Coach K came out
very strongly in regards to it. So our guys learned a lot through the process and the meetings we had.”The night before the game, Maine met with Athlete Ally, a group promoting inclusion and opposing LGBT discrimination. “We had a great meeting last night with them,” Walsh said. “Four student-athletes from Duke came over here and talked to us about what they do for inclusion,
respect and equality. it was a learning
experience for our guys, and I think our guys learned a lot. I’m proud that our university is about equality and respect.”The statement was not a unanimous one. Two Maine players went through warm-ups without wearing the jersey. Ilker Er, a junior from Istanbul, Turkey, and Jaquan McKennon, a sophomore from Queens, New York, wore standard Maine warm-up jerseys instead of the rainbow ones. “We had enough (jerseys),” Walsh said. “I gave our guys a choice. We talked about it. We had some really good conversations about it. Every one of them had a choice. It wasn’t something that us or the university forced them to do.” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was supportive of Maine’s statement, saying it echoed what has already been said publicly by the Duke community.”




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It’s great,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s stuff we’ve done the whole year. So what’s
different? As a person, as a program, as a university, as a conference, and the entire NCAA–we all have come out
against it. Really, I don’t think there’s any need to comment on it. They have a
right, and I’m really glad they’re doing it. We’ve already done that, and we
continue to support having that wiped off the books. But we’ve done a lot on
that. I’m glad they’re doing it, but it’s not new news for us.”