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DarioWatch: clutch threes on LGBTQ+ Night, and why allies and representation in men’s pro sports matter

The Homie’s sharpshooting and passing helped the Warriors secure Wednesday’s win over the Sacramento Kings

Dario Saric walks to the locker room after the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on October 29, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Dario Saric #20 of the Golden State Warriors walks to the locker room after the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on October 29, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

In three of his most recent games for the Golden State Warriors, Dario Šarić scored 15 points combined. During Wednesday night’s LGBTQ+ Night game against the Sacramento Kings, that changed — the Homie scored 15 points total across all four quarters. Among these 15 points were two clutch threes — one at the end of the 3rd quarter to put the Warriors at 71-72 and closing the gap, and one at the beginning of the 4th quarter to put the Warriors up 81-79. The Warriors, thanks to Super Dario’s sharpshooting and passing, won this game.

That’s not the most important part of this DarioWatch, though. A lot of Dario’s fans are queer and/or female — two demographics of NBA fans who are often discriminated against. Although Dario wasn’t featured in the Warriors’ LGBTQ+ Night video, he’s clearly an ally of the community. Šarić’s comments on former Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver — exposed in 2022 for racist, sexist, and homophobic comments and actions towards team employees and players — at last season’s media day were the best of everyone on the team.

While most players echoed an empty sentiment along the lines of ‘basketball is for everyone,’ Dario said it directly:

“There’s no place for discrimination in our league, our sport, or any other sports.”

Like the self-proclaimed ‘girls and gays’ who love him, Dario is no stranger to discrimination and bullying from NBA fans. The NBA is an extremely appearance-driven league due to the league’s emphasis on players as individuals, pre-game outfits and personal style, and players setting trends across fandom. When a player falls outside of the norm — if they paint their nails like the Rockets’ Jalen Green or wear a skirt to the Met Gala like Russell Westbrook did in 2022 — they immediately become subject to discrimination from fans online.

In Dario’s case, the bullying cuts deeper than just fashion choices. Dario was born with a cleft lip and has faced endless discrimination and bullying from fans due to his appearance. During the 2014 FIBA tournament, for example, he was bullied so badly online by opposing fans that a radio host from the Philippines told fans to essentially touch grass instead of spending their time making fun of him. To this day, every once in a while, a Tweet will float around about Dario’s appearance — often saying he looks ‘inbred’ or comparing him to characters in media whose appearances usually aren’t used as compliments — most of whom have disabilities or facial differences as well.

Dario clearly loves his fans. He sends his fans birthday shoutouts — not to make this about me — and responds to their Instagram DMs, whether they’re sent about last night’s performance or asking about his favorite animals.

He goes out of his way to meet kids with the same disability as him, too, and is an incredible inspiration for so many of them. It’s not often that you see an NBA player with a disability or a facial difference, or really a player so proudly outside of the expected ‘norm’ for what an NBA player should be, so it’s easy to see why his support of his fans matters so much.

There’s something to be said here about the Hozier effect — a phenomenon in which women and queer people on the internet latch onto large, friendly, male allies. In Dario’s case, his acceptance of his own differences and his kindness towards fans ‘outside the norm’ may be a part of his appeal to these demographics of fans.

If the NBA had more players like Dario, and more teams like the Warriors, who actively speak out against injustice, fans of the league might skew more positive and less discriminatory against those who they think don’t fit the norm. When you think of Dario’s 15-point sharpshooting extravaganza the other night, remember that it happened on the Warriors’ LGBTQ+ Night, and what that means to so many NBA fans whose voices often go unheard.

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