Adam Silver has been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community for virtually his entire tenure as NBA commissioner,

Outsports has reached out to the commissioners of the Big Five pro sports leagues in America, asking them about LGBTQ inclusion and Pride Month. This is part of that series.

Since Adam Silver was named commissioner of the NBA in 2014, the league has implemented various LGBTQ-inclusion policies and efforts. That has continued a legacy of inclusion for both the NBA and its sister league, the WNBA.

In an exclusive written interview with Outsports for Pride Month, Silver recognized the roles of the NBA and WNBA in advancing LGBTQ inclusion in American sports.

The combination of these two leagues has, over the last 25 years, given rise to powerful inclusion efforts in both men’s and women’s sports.

“I’m proud that the NBA and WNBA are institutions that bring people and communities together,” Silver told Outsports. “The values of equality, respect and inclusion are paramount to our leagues and how we operate as a business.”

Silver was the first commissioner of one of the major pro sports leagues — anywhere in the world — to participate in an LGBTQ Pride Parade, doing so in 2017.

Silver sees the use of the NBA’s increasingly worldwide platform to promote LGBTQ inclusion as one of its challenges in the coming years. As the NBA builds and strengthens relationships with anti-LGBTQ regimes in China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, pressure will build to use said platform to elevate human rights.

The NBA recently announced a partnership with Emirates (as have various sports entities), an airline owned by the government of Dubai. Homosexuality is outlawed there.

The opportunity for the NBA to expand LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion expands beyond American shores — including places like Dubai, China and Saudi Arabia — is huge.

“I think the NBA and WNBA continue to have a constructive role to play in promoting equality,” Silver said. “Sports have historically been used as a lens to explore broader issues in society and that’s equally true for issues around sexual orientation. With our global platform, we have an opportunity to demonstrate why inclusion is critically important for all organizations and for society at large.”

At home, Silver told Outsports that NBA locker rooms are more welcoming than ever before. That reflects a generally welcoming attitude toward out LGBTQ athletes that Outsports has found in its Out In Sports study in conjunction with the University of Winchester.

“I’ve been encouraged by the progress that we’ve seen in sports around the support and acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” Silver said. “And my sense is that our locker rooms are much more welcoming today than ever before.”

Silver said that any gay or bi player in the league who chooses to come out publicly will be supported.

“I would tell any player or coach that we are here to assist you in any way possible and make clear that they have the league’s full support,” Silver said.

While no athlete has come out in the NBA since Jason Collins over a decade ago, it’s hard to believe any NBA locker room would outright reject a gay teammate. Collins has spoken about his Brooklyn Nets teammates rallying around him. Los Angeles Lakers fans greeted him with applause when he stepped on the court for the first time after coming out.

Other top-level out gay men’s basketball players have shared the same experience.

Check back tomorrow for Outsports’ Pride Month interview with another commissioner of one of the Big Five sports leagues.