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Thread: Retired NBA player John Amaechi to announce he's gay

  1. #1
    Elite Member Dean James's Avatar
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    Nov 2006

    Default Retired NBA player John Amaechi to announce he's gay

    Speculation has been rumbling over the past couple of days on several websites that a former NBA player will be coming out of the closet on Valentine's Day.

    This evening I spoke with Howard Bragman, the mystery athlete's publicist. Though he wouldn't confirm the player's identity, Bragman did tell me that the former player has been retired for a few years, had a long career in the NBA "with a number of different teams", and will be coming out of the closet next Tuesday afternoon on ESPN's "Outside the Lines".

    The athlete has written a book that is being published by ESPN and will be in New York next week doing an aggressive media campaign. According to Bragman, "[the athlete] is an activist for a lot of different causes, and thought it was silly that he wasn't an activist for the LGBT community, so he decided there was no reason for him to stay in the closet. [During his career] he was discreet but not deeply closeted. For people who know him or have covered him it's probably not a shocking revelation."

    Just after I spoke with Bragman, Outsports broke the story wide open, naming the athlete whom many had been speculating about, an athlete who matches Bragman's description perfectly John Amaechi, a former player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and the Utah Jazz. Amaechi, the son of a Nigerian father and English mother, was raised in Britain where he currently works as a consultant and philanthropist. He runs the ABC Foundation, which works to construct sports centers and create mentors and athletic programs for children around England.

    Outsports obtained a copy of the book Man in the Middle last week. They report:

    He followed his time as a Cavalier with three years playing in Europe, where he dated and had a regular boyfriend for a time in England. He returned to the NBA in 1999 and was celibate until he went to the Jazz. His guaranteed contract with the Jazz set his mind at ease, and it was there that he began venturing out to gay establishments and building a mostly gay circle of friends (the first wide circle of friends of his life, according to the book).
    "Those grumpy social conservatives who continue to insist that gay life is lonely and unhappy have obviously never met my friends," Amaechi wrote.

    He writes of his first sexual experience in the United States, and how the Utah Jazz and Salt Lake City, controlled by the Latter Day Saints, was an odd backdrop for what felt like his coming out party. He also acknowledges that those in gay clubs like New York's Splash and Los Angeles' Abbey who have claimed in the past to have spotted him there while he was with the Jazz may, in fact, have done so.

    "By the end of my second Utah season, I was practically daring reporters to take the bait and out me," he wrote. "But it never happened. My sexuality, I felt, had become an open secret, which was fine by me. I'd left enough open to interpretation that suspicions were gaining momentum."

    He'll be the fourth professional athlete to come out of the closet, and the first from the NBA. The world and professional sports will be a better place for it.

    We'll look forward to next week when this all goes down.

    Report: Former NBA Player John Amaechi to Announce He's Gay -- Towleroad for modern gay men,

    Last edited by Dean James; February 6th, 2007 at 10:12 PM. Reason: title revision
    Baby, by the time you have kids and they're in school, no one will care about you.

  2. #2
    Elite Member JuicyLucy's Avatar
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    Jan 2007


    A homosexual athlete, that's rough.
    I bet he thought those locker room showers were a gift from God.
    Dont Feed The Models

  3. #3
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Jul 2006


    Amaechi to come out publicly - NBA - Yahoo! Sports

    Here are some snippets from players:

    (the old "if they don't make a move on me" spiel)

    Orlando's Grant Hill, who said he didn't know Amaechi when he was with the Magic, also applauded the decision to go public.
    "The fact that John has done this, maybe it will give others the comfort or confidence to come out as well, whether they are playing or retiring," Hill said.
    NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality wasn't important.
    "We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'Have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said.
    LeBron James, however, said he didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league.
    "With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy," James said. "So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates -- we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."
    Injured Philadelphia Sixers forward Shavlik Randolph acknowledged it's a new situation.

    "As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm fine," Randolph said. "As far as business-wise, I'm sure I could play with him. But I think it would create a little awkwardness in the locker room."
    News that Amaechi had come out surprised some players.
    "For real? He's gay for real?" said Philadelphia center Steven Hunter. "Nowadays it's proven that people can live double lives. I watch a lot of TV, so I see a lot of sick perverted stuff about married men running around with gay guys and all types of foolishness."
    Even so, Hunter said he would be fine with an openly gay teammate.
    "As long as he don't make any advances toward me I'm fine with it," he said. "As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself like a good person, I'd be fine with it."
    Orlando's Pat Garrity acknowledged reaction was bound to vary throughout the league.
    "They would have teammates that would accept them for being a good person and a good teammate, and there would be people who would give him a hard time about it," he said. "I think that's true if you're playing basketball or in an office job. That's just how the world is right now."
    In his book, Amaechi describes the challenge of being gay in a league where it's assumed all players are heterosexual. He describes the blatant anti-gay language and attitudes he experienced in NBA locker rooms.
    "We're all insensitive at times. There's no taboo subject in the locker room," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who coached Amaechi in Orlando, where he said he had one of his strongest locker rooms. "I think if he would have come out they would have got on him jokingly. ... And I actually think that when guys do come out, when that day happens, it will make it easier."
    Amaechi also writes that while playing in Utah, coach Jerry Sloan used anti-gay innuendo to describe him. Sloan said Wednesday that although his relationship with Amaechi was "shaky" because of the player's attitude, he didn't know Amaechi was gay. Sloan had no comment about Amaechi's contention that Sloan used anti-gay innuendo when referring to him. Amaechi said he found out about it in e-mails from friends in the Jazz front office. Asked if knowing Amaechi was gay would have mattered, Sloan said: "Oh yeah, it would have probably mattered. I don't know exactly, but I always have peoples' feelings at heart. People do what they want to do. I don't have a problem with that."

  4. #4
    Elite Member Dean James's Avatar
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    Nov 2006


    A really, really good response from a gay sportswriter, LZ Granderson, who's sick to death of the closet's role in sports.

    I am so over gay people.

    Specifically, John Amaechi.

    Not him personally -- I hear he's a delightful guy -- but gay people like him.

    You know, the athlete who comes out after retiring, writes a tell-all, and then hears how courageous he is from straight columnists trying to appear "evolved" even though I've heard the word "f-----" come out of their mouths just as freely as some of the athletes they write about. I'm over it because we've all been here before. Like a remake of "Groundhog Day" featuring the cast of "Will and Grace," the country works itself up into a frenzy any time the subject comes up, true or false. Amaechi comes out ("Gasp, there's a pro gay athlete!") or Mike Piazza holds a 2002 news conference ("I'm not gay"), or the suggestive Snickers commercial airs, and then we go back to our same routine until another "courageous" soul comes out when he feels has nothing to lose.

    John Amaechi will discuss his book Sunday on "Outside The Lines" (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN). The book will be released Feb. 20.
    I do not mean to belittle Amaechi's experience or the experiences of any other athlete who comes out after retirement. I am friends with gay, former pro athletes and look forward to reading Amaechi's book (to be published by ESPN Books). But I can't help but wonder: When will somebody simply man up? That is, come out while he is still playing and finally demystify this whole gay athlete thing once and for all.

    I've read the magazines.

    I've seen the interviews.

    Hell, I've written the stories.

    Closeted athletes are miserable.

    They have thoughts of suicide, they can't perform as well as they'd like, they live in constant anxiety of being found out, and while their heterosexual teammates are out chasing skirts during road trips, they stay locked up in their hotel rooms afraid to make eye contact with anyone because the bellhop's gaydar may go off.

    Get over it.

    An athlete in 2007 who stays in the closet during his playing days does more to support homophobia in sports than coming out after retirement does to combat it.

    But what I am suggesting is that by not living the truth you are supporting the lie. The lie that gay men are inherently weaker than straight men. We can go in circles about whether homosexuality is a sin, but that's not what this argument is about. It's about whether a gay athlete can perform on the field or on the court at the same level of excellence and intensity as a straight athlete. I've talked to a lot athletes over the years about having a gay teammate, and their top objection is they believe a gay dude won't be able to pull his own weight. The whole shower thing is a close second.

    Tracy McGrady was a former teammate of Amaechi's in Orlando. "I"m the type of dude who don't give a f---" says McGrady. "I don't care what you are as long as you're doing what you're supposed to be doing on the court. You could be the most flaming (guy) on earth and answer to boyfriend and kiss him after the game as long as you don't try it with me. I just want to win. And that's how I am. To each his own, be yourself, and be proud of it. Everything else is just a bunch of crap."

    I agree with T-Mac. Everything else is a bunch of crap. That's why I say it's time to man up. Life as an openly gay man cannot be any worse than life as a closeted one at this point. Look around, whatever endorsements you might lose for being gay you will be able to make up from other companies looking for buzz. High school athletes are out and changing lives. Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" had to go into rehab to keep his job after directing an anti-gay slur at a co-worker. Twenty years ago, it would have been the co-worker worried about his job. This isn't "Gaytopia," but the movie studios aren't forcing you to marry a woman like they did in the old days.

    And don't hand me the it's-harder-in-sports crap, either. I've been an out sportswriter for years now. I've been on TV, had my face in one of the largest newspapers in the country and my mug is sitting right next to this column. I've been called names in work meetings, received death threats and told I was going to hell more times than the devil. But you know what, I don't give a rip. Because at the end of the day I know walking within what I know is true for me is a lot easier than trying to run from it. Just ask Jim McGreevy. Or Mark Foley. Or Ted Haggard, who appears to still be running.

    Better yet, why don't you ask yourself. You have worked extremely hard to become a professional athlete. You are young, rich and famous-ish. This is supposed to be the best time of your life. Isn't it about time you have the courage to try to enjoy it?
    Baby, by the time you have kids and they're in school, no one will care about you.

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