Controversial church group protests the NBA's campaign against gay slurs

Published: Wednesday, June 8 2011 3:20 p.m. MDT

The smack talk continues for the NBA.

The tiny, controversial Westboro Baptist Church, known commonly for an extreme anti-gay stance and picketing at funerals for war veterans, issued a call-to-arms after the NBA launched a campaign against gay slurs.

The group plastered images of David Stern, the NBA commissioner who started the public-service campaign, claiming that "God hates David Stern and the NBA" because of the new campaign. The group picketed outside the American Airlines Center where the Dallas Mavericks are hosting the NBA Finals, according to KDAF-TV Dallas/Fort Worth CW affiliate.

"Now David Stern, the tyrant commissioner of the NBA, is jamming a message down the throat of America that not only is it OK to be gay, but you don't even want to use the word 'gay' in a negative connotation," church member Steve Drain told KDAF-TV.

Social network users are also bashing the anti-gay slur PSAs from the NBA, according to a poll from PoliPulse, an online monitoring tool from Powell Tate, a D.C.-based public affairs and communications agency.

The company analyzed blog posts, online forums and tweets to conclude that 37 percent of opinions are against the new NBA commercials, while another 13 percent believe fines for NBA players Joakim Noah and Kobe Bryant were excessive.

Noah and Bryant were both fined for using gay slurs on the court on separate occasions within about a month of each other. Noah was fined $50,000, while Bryant lost $100,000.

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley insists homophobia in the NBA is simply an ESPN speculation.

"It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: 'Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy,'" Barkley told the Washington Post. "I'd rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can't play."

Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash said the NBA is ready for an openly gay player during a question-and-answer session with The New York Times.

"I really don't think it's a big issue anymore," Nash told the Times. "I think the time has come when it should happen soon."

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

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