Corey Webster has been stood down from Perth's pre-season NBL game against Adelaide over a social media post that linked the LGBTQI community with mental illness.
A three-time NBL champion with the New Zealand Breakers, Auckland-born Webster responded to a post showing the LGBTQI rainbow flag and the question: "What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see this flag?".
In a Sunday night response that was later deleted, Webster wrote: "Mental illness".
On Monday, the NBL and the Wildcats released statements condemning Webster's comments and the player, 34, apologised despite insisting no hurt was intended by his comments.
He was set to play at the NBL Blitz on Tuesday against the 36ers, who feature Isaac Humphries - the only openly gay man playing in a top-tier basketball league - on their roster.
But Perth pulled Webster from the clash on the Gold Coast, announcing his withdrawal four hours before tip-off.
"The decision has been made following ongoing discussions between Webster and the club," a Wildcats statement read.
"Both parties have agreed that upon further reflection the decision is appropriate.
"Webster wishes to apologise once again, understanding the ramifications of his actions and the potential harm such comments can cause.
"Having expressed sincere disappointment in his comments, the club will continue to use this incident as a learning experience for the wider playing group and staff to further educate on inclusiveness, which is one of the core values of what we stand for as an organisation."
The NBL has committed to holding Pride Round again in 2023 after it debuted last season, with the league's newly appointed chief executive officer David Stevenson describing Webster's comment as "insensitive and harmful".
"We want the NBL to be a safe and inclusive environment at all times and encourage the greater inclusion and wellbeing of LGBTQ players, members and fans," Stevenson said.
"The community is critical in supporting inclusion and diversity in our society and we all must work together to encourage everyone to be themselves."
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