Former NBA Player John Amaechi on Outside the Lines: I’m Gay

Former NBA Player John Amaechi came out of the closet officially over the weekend on Sunday’s ESPN program Outside the Lines. We have the clip for you here.

The Human Rights Campaign announced yesterday that Amaechi would serve as a spokesperson for HRC’s Coming Out Project, a program that helps gay men and women come out and live openly.

Amaechi’s announcement has been met with reactions from coaches and players in pro basketball. Most have reacted with something of a shrug, though billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban said that a current NBA star who decides to come out would make bank.

Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban told the Fort Worth Star Telegram: "From a marketing perspective, if you’re a player who happens to be
gay and you want to be incredibly rich, then you should come out,
because it would be the best thing that ever happened to you from a
marketing and an endorsement perspective. You would be an absolute hero to more Americans than you can ever
possibly be as an athlete, and that’ll put money in your pocket. On the flip side, if you’re the idiot who condemns somebody because
they’re gay, then you’re going to be ostracized, you’re going to be
picketed and you’re going to ruin whatever marketing endorsements you
have…When you do something that the whole world thinks is difficult and you
stand up and just be who you are and take on that difficulty factor,
you’re an American hero no matter what. That’s what the
American spirit’s all about, going against the grain and standing up
for who you are, even if it’s not a popular position…It’s got to be somebody who’s strong-willed. He’ll put up
with some grief. But at the same time, I don’t want to compare him to
Jackie Robinson, but it’s the analogy in a lot of ways. He becomes a
role model.

And here are a few of the other reactions from around the league:

Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whom Amaechi has accused of using anti-gay remarks in reference to him: "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."

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James:
"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. 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

Orlando Magic player Grant Hill: "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

NBA Commissioner David Stern: "We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always: ‘Have you got game?’ That’s it, end of inquiry."

Philadelphia Sixers forward Shavlik Randolph: "As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me, I’m fine. 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."

Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell: "It’s really a difficult thing to do, knowing the nature of sports and
being in that locker room, it could be tough. I think
it wouldn’t be a lot of guys, but there would always be one or two on a
team (who wouldn’t approve)."

Philadelphia 76ers center-forward Steven Hunter:  "For real? He’s gay for real? 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. As long as he don’t make any advances toward me, I’m fine with it. As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted
himself like a good person, I’d be fine with it."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "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."

You may have missed..
Guide to the Tube: Talking Heads Discuss the Coming Out [tr]
Report: Former NBA Player John Amaechi to Announce He’s Gay [tr]
John Amaechi: Man in the Middle [amazon]
(thanks alan)


  1. Larry says

    It never ceases to amaze me that straight guys always assume gay guys want to jump them. Some of these players who say “it’s fine as long as he didn’t make the moves on me” are dirt as far as I’m concerned. If someone is attracted to you, it’s not because of your empathetic personality or sparkling intellect, that’s for sure…

  2. says

    I’m glad to see him come out, and the fact that he’s an out player of color is even better. I’m still waiting for someone to come out at the top of their game, like at half time at the playoffs. Now that would go a long way toward combatting stereotypes and homophobia.

  3. Reginald says

    i have to say. i am not a huge nba fan myself. but good for amaechi. while it would have been nice for him (or the assumed others that are currently playing) to come out while in still in the nba, it is a personal journey above all and everyone should be allowed their own timetable for how they come to terms with their sexuality and when to come out.

  4. Zeke says

    A couple more POSITIVE quotes (and there were MANY) that weren’t included in the list:

    From Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, “I think the world of [Amaechi]. There was a point in time a few years back where we tried to get him [in free agency]. Had he come out before, we would have welcomed him.”

    And my favorite quote of all from Raptors coach Sam Mitchell:

    “It shouldn’t be about tolerance, it should be about respect. Treating people as human beings,” he told the Toronto Sun. “Are you supposed to tolerate me because I’m black or are they supposed to treat me with respect because I’m a human being?”

    Mr. Mitchell REALLY gets it! I sick to death of being “tolerated”. Tell me you respect me; tell me you accept me; hell, tell me you hate me but for God’s sake, if all you can manage is to tolerate me, then do it silently and don’t tell me about it.

  5. Bill says

    Don’t bring your gayness on me. Love it. Is there big trouble with moose and squirrel?

    Like we with the gayness should have to continually put up with having straightness brought on us all the time?

  6. Matthew says

    What LeBron isn’t getting is that the trust needs to be there on every side. Obviously, Amaechi didn’t trust his teammates not give him a hard time or protect him from harrassement.

  7. says

    I think that’s actually what LeBron is saying. Hard to say, I guess.

    It’s interesting to me that most of them are all freaked out about the locker room thing. I suspect that’s less homophobia and more the fact that they know that if they were in a women’s locker room they’d sure as hell be looking at women, and they expect gay guys to do the same. Which, I suppose, is an oddly twisted form of respect – they know that gay guys are guys like themselves. Or of course I could be completely wrong.

  8. Terry says

    I found the comments of NBA player Steven Hunter to be laughable at best. I don’t think he has to worry about being hit on…we normally go for good looking guys and he doesn’t exactly fit in that category. LOL

  9. Giovanni says

    Sir Charles’ comment about knowing of three gay players during his tenure was pretty intriguing – wonder who? Amaechi is my new hero – he certainly would have made Splash a hell of lot more interesting.

    You gotta love the concept of “bringing your gayness on me” an hilariously astute defintion of hompohobia. I am sure the gay players are just as terrified of the locker room however.

  10. Ryan says

    It annoys me when people say that they want players to come out at the top of their game. Only a person who has no idea, would say something like this! If coming out at the hieght of a pro career is so important to you, you should become a profesional athlete, struggle for years to become the best at what you do, and then announce to the world that you are gay. Everyone needs to realize that there are actual people behind these catalysts of change. They have to weigh their hopes, dreams, happiness and safety, against their desire to make a statement that may or may not make a difference in the world.

    Not everybody can be as bold as the people shouting at them to do so.

  11. ______ says

    I think players who have to spew out that “As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me” crap says a lot more about them than anything.

  12. ______ says

    I think players who have to spew out that “As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me” crap says a lot more about them than anything.

  13. Greggie says

    I’m from Philly and I’m embarrassed that both Sixers that were quoted made such stupid remarks. “As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me?” What the hell is wrong with people?

  14. Ben says

    Well, im glad that some people are actually respecting this man for who he is. Now i wonder if they would stick up for a gay teammate that was being harassed. And those scumbags who say “don’t bring your gayness on me” are just idiots.

  15. James says

    It is interesting that LeBron James, the young savior of the league, comes off as more mature than his older peers.


  16. sam says

    That ESPN reporter seriously needs a new stylist. That hair, and scarf!!! Yuck! I thought this guy was hot, and that English accent just drives me over the edge! Woof!

  17. Jack! says

    The NBA is far more homophobic than these comments let on. In the locker room they are saying the exact opposite or even worse. That’s why there are no openly gay players.

    Lebron James is a self-absorbed ass. To demand to know someone’s sexuality or else not be trusted is laughable. Get real!

    Mark Cuban is dellusional. He honestly believes that an active gay NBA player at THIS TIME would be a marketing bonanza? And that they would be admired most of the fans? At least HE is accepting of gay people. His perception of public acceptance is way off though.

    Jerry Sloan and Steve Hunter can kiss my ass!

    Bravo Grant Hill! He’s the most reasoned out of them all.

    Most importantly thank you to John Amaechi for coming out and telling your story.

  18. atheist says

    Ryan, I heartily agree with your comment re the dilemma; that is why the prospect of coming out is, as John Amaechi, says “terrifying”. Sport isn’t like the arts or entertainment (and its not exactly a walk in the park over there either); sport is the last real bastion of unadulterated bigotry. In such circs, which of us would be strong enough to resist the all-too-human impulse for self-preservation? Committing career suicide doesn’t come naturally to anyone.

  19. Steve says

    I am in my early 40’s and what amazes me is that it is now 2007 and I am still hearing the same comments that I was hearing in the 1980’s when I was coming out. Tell me what has changed in 20 years? My mother said to me ‘it is ok but don’t tell anyone, what will they think of me’. Obviously it was not ok for her. Amaechi describes the process as ‘terrifying’and that saddens me. The other thing I want to say is that people who are gay need to stop compensating for being gay by being good people. We are good people despite our homosexuality, we value add to our communities despite our homosexulaity. We achieve great things at work and education despite our homeosexulaity. Amaechi was a great player despite the fact that he was gay and he is now a good human being despite the fact he is gay. I suppose what I am rambling on about is that what I have come to realise is that the whole (human being)is greater than the sum of its parts.

  20. rudy says

    Steve, Despite? Despite being gay? What a self-loathing declaration. I daresay that most gay men are responsible citizens who contribute to their community BECAUSE they are gay. Being gay is fundamental to our being. It is a significant part of how we are made. Being gay is not an impediment to be overcome. I hope you resolve your self-hatred.

  21. TOM says

    Notice the “open-minded hetero” players or fans who say, ‘as long as he makes no advances on me’ and ‘as long as he does not “_bring his gayness_” on me’ (like ‘gayness’ is the bubonic plague). Then there are the SICK, PERVERTED gay people having extra-marital affairs — the shame and HORROR of it all. Also, “we” will hold our noses and permit this “person” to play, as long as he “came to play basketball LIKE A MAN (NOT LIKE A PUSSY), and conducted himself like a good person (and did not conduct himself like one of the SICK, PERVERTED gay people — walking the earth, looking for someone to foist their “gayness” onto).