Former NBA Player John Amaechi on Kobe Bryant’s Anti-Gay Slur: ‘Saying You Didn’t Mean it is Not the Answer’

Former NBA player John Amaechi, who came out in 2007 after he retired, talks to USA Today about Kobe Bryant's recent slur, as well as his follow-up statement:

Amaechi-headshot I suppose that's the typical, "I apologize if you're offended" type of comment. I doubt very much when he said that that he thought Bennie was a pile of sticks. There's only one contemporary meaning for that.

The problem we have now is because of the way we don't address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they're like a woman or worse, that they're gay.

We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I've been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We've got to mirror that progress.

Amaechi said that while he agrees with the fine imposed (which Kobe is appealing), what he'd really like to see Kobe do is make a difference:

I'm not interested in seeing Kobe punished. What I'm interested in is if you're really sorry, that this is a one-off mistake for you, use the power you have to make a difference. That means a proper apology and doing something with his brand. Good Lord, he's got the power with one executive decision to get people moving and do something good here. Do something good.

I've said this before and I know people think it's hyperbole, but especially in America, people look at sports stars like their gods. I keep saying every time, "If sports stars are gods it's time we see a miracle every once in a while." This is an opportunity for that.

…what I would want is to encourage Kobe to use the power he has to really make an apology that means something. Tell black men, men in general in America, that resorting to that sort of language is the lowest of the low and is unacceptable. And it doesn't make you any more of a man. That's really the answer. Saying you didn't mean it is not the answer.

Much more interview at USA Today


  1. Chitown Kev says

    “The problem we have now is because of the way we don’t address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they’re like a woman or worse, that they’re gay.”

    The problem we have NOW?

    Amaechi may want to read some of Catullus’ poems (particularly #57)

    There’s a longer history with the type of invective that Bryant used than many many othe rpejoratives.

    Other than that, I agree wholeheartedly with Amaechi.

  2. Shannon says


  3. Jerry says

    Uh oh! Amechi brought up the N-word when talking about the f-word. I wonder if Arty and the rest are going to chastise him.

  4. luminum says

    Gee, Shannon, I’VE always like John Amaechi…

    And I love that you’re the one who called him Uncle Tom.

  5. Gregv says

    @Shannon: stop screaming nonsense and go back to the meeting. Maggie’s wondering where you’ve gone off to and you don’t want her to find out you were reading a gay blog.

  6. Chitown Kev says


    Can’t be more of an illiterate idiot than you are…impossible (as if you give a damn about black gay men)

  7. Oz says

    Sidenote: Fag as a pejorative term for gay men doesn’t actually come from the word for a bundle of sticks. It (probably, as far as these things can be discerned) comes from the British school practice of older students ‘fagging’ younger boys – using them for work (and occasionally sex). The whole correlation between burning gay men and bundles of sticks isn’t accurate. The more you know…*shooting star*

  8. deedrdo says

    @oz: interesting comment. i would love to see a link to that so i could learn more. shooting star.

  9. Rowan says

    So Jerry, just because Amaechi says so??

    No one said it’s not a bad word but what do you call a black gay guy? N word first or the f word?

    Our issue and I can’t speak for Arty though I think I understood his post cause I have a brain, was the REACTION to it.

    White athletes do this ALL the time. Tim Tebow is in bed with people who want to KILL us but no one, NO ONE threw the ‘cracker’ or ‘white trash’ word at him. People were making excuses.

    Go back and READ.

  10. TampaZeke says

    Actually, the etymology of “fag” and “faggot” are unknown. We don’t even know if the origin of “fag” is the same as “faggot”. Even if one were to attribute them both to “fagging”, it doesn’t account for the etymology of “fagging”.

  11. Oz says

    Right, there’s loads of other terminology for homosexual activity, same-sex attraction, etc. that’s much older. But for the English word “fag”, it’s not accurate to say that it’s from the term for a bundle of sticks…

  12. Chitown Kev says


    That’s not exactly what I’m saying…it’s only a part of it.

    There’s no difference between (just to take my example” Catullus use of the pejorative against Julius Caesar than Bryant’s use of the pejorative against this ref…it was done for the same reason.

    And it never really mattered whether the person who was the object of the pejorative was “gay” or “straight” or the “passive partner” etc.

    It was said for the the same reasons, to assume power and control and to gain advantage over someone. and in that sense it is just like “the n-word.”

  13. Oz says

    TAMPAZEKE – You’re right, we can’t really account for the word etymology. But if we’re looking for when the word became a pejorative for homosexuals, the public schoolboy explanation is a good guess as to the start, since it gives a good intersection between homosexual acts, domination, and effeminacy. Just you are right – there are other theories and ideas out there.

    CHITOWN KEV – I’m totally just talking about etymology of the word, and Amaechi’s statement about the bundle of sticks.

  14. says

    I’m sick of this ISH……regardless of this appeal nonsense he will have to pay the fine.

    Thanks Amaechi. But what’s going to change? NOTHING!
    Folks will still spur out the derogatory comments And there will still be a part of the Gay Community will always chastize African Americans on GP because they don’t like them and use things like this as an excuse to scream ni**er Tea Pary closet queens and Obama will get re-elected and life will move

    So shut the H3LL up already! Hypocrisy wins out…LOL

  15. says

    I agree with him 100%.

    Being gay and black myself, I’ve been called the fword and the nword at some point in my life but food for thought: no one has ever hit me after calling me the nword.

    Just something to think about.

  16. steven says

    I think John is so totally hot…even hotter now that he’s out. I’d call him any name he wants me to call him and he can call me anything he wants, as long as I get a taste of some of that delicious milk chocolate…he trips my trigger like no other! :) Yum!

  17. says

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