Knicks celebrate Pride at Madison Square Garden

The Knicks featured Rainbow Flags on the court during Pride Ngiht festivities.
The Knicks featured Rainbow Flags on the court during Pride Ngiht festivities.
New York Knicks

The New York Knicks hosted a Pride Night game at Madison Square Garden during the team’s Jan. 9 matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers, representing the latest edition of an annual team tradition that first started in 2018.

The Knicks posted about the Pride Night festivities across the team’s social media platforms throughout the evening. The first 10,000 fans received a special Pride Night tote bag, which was sponsored by Delta Air Lines, and the inside and outside of MSG had rainbow lighting.

The team honored Melissa D’ Andrea Sullivan, the New York-born executive director of PFLAG NYC, which supports families of LGBTQ individuals. Sullivan was the recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award, which is named in honor of Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, who was the Knicks’ first Black player. The award acknowledges individuals who have made contributions to the lives of others through involvement in the community.

Sullivan was honored during an on-court ceremony featuring out Queens City Councilmember Lynn Schulman, who represents Rego Park, Forest Hills, Jamaica Hills-Briarwood, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, South Richmond Hill, Ozone Park (North), South Ozone Park, Jamaica, and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

“Proudly commemorating PRIDE Night,” the Knicks said in a post on X. “We’re happy to honor Melissa D’ Andrea Sullivan of @pflagnyc with the Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award. Thanks to Queens Councilwoman Lynn Schulman for participating in this special recognition.”

Sullivan said the award serves as an inspiration to continue her work in the community.

“I learned to leave places better than I found them,” Sullivan said in a written statement. “At PFLAG NYC, and other social justice and equity-focused spaces, we talk a lot about creating ‘brave spaces.’ I would like to be remembered as a person who helped foster ‘brave spaces’ and tried to leave each person and place I encouter in my life better than I found them.”

During the ceremony on the court, Sullivan received a customized Knicks jersey with her name on the back. As part of the award, the Knicks and HUB International — an insurance brokerage — will team up to donate $10,000 to PFLAG NYC.

“As a member of @NYCCouncil LGBTQ Caucus was thrilled to participate in PRIDE Night with @nyknicks last night, where Melissa D’ Andrea Sullivan of @pflagnyc was honored with the Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award,” Schulman said in a post on X. “At a time when the LGBTQ community is often under attack, it is heartwarming to see a prominent sports team like @nyknicks be so supportive.”

As for the game itself, fans were also treated to a strong performance by the Knicks in a 112-84 victory over the Trail Blazers, extending New York’s winning streak to five games.

While the Knicks have hosted Pride games since 2018, the team’s Pride Night was particularly memorable in January of 2020 — just before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the city — when LGBTQ advocate Reggie Bullock, then a member of the Knicks, sported rainbow-colored sneakers and rainbow-dyed streaks in his hair. Bullock was still grieving the death of his out trans sister, Mia, and he told Gay City News he was using his platform to stand up for LGBTQ rights.

“Obviously we don’t have an out player in our league, but with players like me who continue to stand up and use my platform, possibly one day somebody who is a part of the community can be in this league,” Bullock said at the time.