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Phil Jackson Calls Need for Inclusiveness in NBA 'Ridiculous' Because He's Never Seen a Gay Player: VIDEO


HuffPost Live asked Phil Jackson, who served as head coach of the L.A. Lakers and the Chicago Bulls, and four-time NBA champion Kurt Rambis, who previously served as head coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves, about gay basketball players in the NBA and whether an inclusive attitude is necessary.

Said Jackson: "That's a ridiculous question. I mean, none of us have probably ever seen it in all our careers. There's no inclusiveness to be had. So it's really a strange question... Never run into it in all my career."

Added Rambis:  "There hasn't been a player who was openly gay in the NBA while I've been involved in the NBA whether it was a player or a coach. ... it wouldn't surprise me if there was."


Back in 200 Jackson was reprimanded for making a joke about Brokeback Mountain after a particularly physical game against the spurs.

Said Jackson at the time: "We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because there's so much penetration and kickouts. It was one of those games."

The NBA reacted immediately: "The remarks are in poor taste, and the Lakers have assured us such remarks will not occur in the future."

Jackson said later: "In retrospect, it wasn't really funny. When you take it out of context, it wasn't funny. It was a poor attempt at humor and I deserved to be reprimanded by the NBA. If I've offended any horses, Texans, cowboys or gays, I apologize."


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  1. I highly doubt there are large number of gays in professional sports...but there are probably a few. Gays are a tiny segment of the overall population...and though it is stereotypical a significant percentage of gays are not into sports. Secondly, of those naturally drawn to sports...a portion would have been turned off by the traditional homophobia associated with the male locker room at early stages of their athletic lives. That leaves a miniscule segment of gay men who could make it into professional leagues...and an even more microscopic percentage of those would become significant players to dominant athletes in there fields.

    Having some mediocre benched player come out will only play into stereotypes.

    Posted by: pedro | Apr 3, 2013 8:09:46 AM

  2. Pedro,

    I don't agree with you at all. Your comment is full of supposition and generalization.

    I would bet London to a brick that NBA players occupy the full range of the Kinsey spectrum. Have you forgotten the Kinsey spectrum?

    As for Phil Jackson, the first thing that springs to mind is "gay face".

    Posted by: Adam | Apr 3, 2013 8:37:12 AM

  3. Sorry, but the percentage is not that minuscule. There are worse enviroments for gays like the army (maybe not right now but yes not so long ago) and the number of gays in the army is quite high.

    There's a lot of reasons why most gay athletes don't come out.
    On a lot of individual sports there's a need of sponsors, and you don't want to risk that sponsors coming out.
    The sports with jury, there's a fear of low scores from judges of not gay friendly countries, and that makes that ice skating or gymnastics wich are sports with a good bunch of gay athletes not having an openly gay one.
    In team sports there's a lot of pressures, the team mates, the coaches, the owners of the teams, and of course, the proper pressue of competitive sports.

    The easier sports to come out are probably the individual ones with a lot fo money to win if you are good enough, like tennis. But if you come out, the focus will be on you, and it's difficult to compete that way.
    Women are a lot braver in that department, because there are a few bunch of openly lesbian tennis players, but not gay men.
    In some countries being openly gay is something more common right now, so it's a question of time that atp has his own gay player. But in my opinion it will be good if he waits to be a top player, if he comes out at the beginning of his career it will be tons of pressure, but if the guy is good, i predict there will be a lot of sponsors for him

    Posted by: jjose712 | Apr 3, 2013 8:40:58 AM

  4. The Kinsey spectrum deals with the overall population...not with a highly selective and specialized group....just as the chances of finding a gay man on broadway is highly probable, the chances of finding a gay player in professional sports who is at the zenith of his game is highly improbable...though not impossible.

    Posted by: pedro | Apr 3, 2013 8:42:39 AM

  5. I promise he has "seen" one. Recognized him as gay perhaps not, but seen and known one most definitely.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Apr 3, 2013 8:46:23 AM

  6. @jjose...anybody with a highscool diploma can join the military....only a tiny percentage of the overall population are born part of the genetically gifted crowd capable of making it in sports of those abut 4 percent are gay men...of that 4 percent what percentage makes it through the gauntlet and onto a professional sports team? And what percentage of those are elite?

    Posted by: pedro | Apr 3, 2013 8:49:11 AM

  7.'ve just provided the winning argument against your first statement which was based completely in stereotypes. The lack of (visible) gay professional athletes has little to do with sexual orientation and more to do with the tiny percentage of *any* population born with the genetic gifts that enable them to play sport professionally.

    Posted by: peterparker | Apr 3, 2013 8:59:51 AM

  8. @peterparker...some stereotypes are grounded in observable facts. What percentage of broadway writers, choreographers, dancers etc are gay? A huge percentage...certainly way more than the 4 percent found in the overall population. Are we going to be p.c. or are we going to be honest?

    Posted by: pedro | Apr 3, 2013 9:08:23 AM

  9. "pedro" - your ridiculous trolling is not really up to the soul-killing levels we have become used to here. And in fact, there already has been an NBA player come out, after retiring of course, Don Amaechi. Go back into your hole now, "pedro".

    Posted by: Taylor | Apr 3, 2013 9:16:42 AM

  10. @ Pedro:

    Your lousy argument of how gays only make up a "miniscule" number of the overall population is long past its expiration date.And that dates back to 1985. Furthermore,that ludicrous statement is used over and over again by the anti-gay Klan in attempt to rationalize discrimination against gays and justify why they feel we are not worthy of equal rights. Getting back to reality,there are alot more of us out there than people of your ilk are willing to accept. Apparently,you think the only gay people in this world are the stereotypical flamboyant gay men. But I will tell you right now,there are alot of masculine gay men around you,you just don't want to accept that fact. Some are out and some are not. But whether they are out of the closet or not is irrelevant here. Because they are still gay men whether you like it or not. Just because we don't "appear" gay to you doesn't mean we are not. Simply put,you are a clueless turd.

    Posted by: Audi-owner | Apr 3, 2013 9:19:46 AM

  11. I am not trolling...I never said there are no gay players. Also, JOHN Amaeche was a mediocre player....pointing him out does nothing to disprove my argument. As a gay man into sports I would love to see our Jackie Robinson...however, I am willing to wait for the right person. I certainly do not wish to kill anyone's soul...

    Posted by: pedro | Apr 3, 2013 9:29:16 AM

  12. Did Jackson et al. never see John Amaechi?

    Posted by: Jay | Apr 3, 2013 9:29:32 AM

  13. The man who coached Dennis Rodman said this?

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Apr 3, 2013 9:31:56 AM

  14. Jackson must believe he has foolproof gaydar. He probably thinks Ru Paul is straight.

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 3, 2013 9:33:03 AM

  15. @Audi-owner...what does a minority population's size have to do with whether they deserve equal rights? All people deserve equal dignity under the law. Is this the reason some gays argue against surveys showing gays are less than 5 percent of the population and instead insist that we are more than 10 percent? Even if we were less than 1 percent it still isnt a constitutional argument against our civil rights.

    Posted by: pedro | Apr 3, 2013 9:38:30 AM

  16. Dear Phil Jackson, you've never seen one because no one came out during his career and that's due to a lack of inclusiveness. So the question is not ridiculous, YOU are dumb. Or as Charles Barkley put it accurately: "Any *athlete who says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin idiot".

    *applies also to head coaches.

    Posted by: Peter M. | Apr 3, 2013 10:56:25 AM

  17. Gee, Phil. I mean I admire you and all but the fact is you were looking in all the wrong places. In fact, there were two of them that you used to see all the time, right in front of your face.

    I'll leave it to you, Phil, to figure out who they were.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Apr 3, 2013 11:25:25 AM

  18. To be fair, you could probably go to any old guy who used to do something that now wants more gay visibility and get a similar response. It doesn't excuse what he said, but I see it as unfair to put an old retired dude on the internet-spotlight to see if he is a bigot.

    A lot of people who say stupid bigoted things don't ever confront their own reality. This guy could be a huge monster that literally asks his closeted gay players to kill themselves, OR, he could be a new ally that learns the value of gay people the hard way.

    Either way ask the current coach of the lakers, his possible bigotry is more relevant.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Apr 3, 2013 11:46:12 AM

  19. I might not agree with Pedro's math but his premise is sound. Team sports are dominated by people like the Fellowship OF Christian Athletes and have traditionally weeded out the guy who doesn't fit in. These guys spend a lot of time naked together, and do everything in groups. There is a reason that residence halls at military academies have three guys to a room.

    It would be the odd gay boy and a damned good liar who makes it through all that.

    Posted by: Hagatha | Apr 3, 2013 11:46:59 AM

  20. @pedro

    what percentage of broadway writers, dancers, choreographers, etc...are gay? i have no idea. i don't know anyone working in any of those positions.

    i do know lots of gay athletes, however. many of them competed in their sport in college but never went on to compete professionally--not because they liked to suck cock but because they lacked the talent or desire.

    regarding athletics, as you have pointed out, only a tiny fraction of the general population has the skills to play sports at the professional level. and only a tiny fraction of the general population is gay. the reason we see few gay athletes playing at a professional level is not for a lack of interest in sport, but because we are only a tiny fraction of the population to begin with.

    pedro, maybe *you* don't find sports interesting. but there are many of us--including myself--for whom sports is a big part of our lives. i know the 2+ hours i spend in the gym every day include lots of pullups, box jumps, wall balls and running with absolutely no choreography, writing or dancing.

    Posted by: peterparker | Apr 3, 2013 11:55:45 AM

  21. "Back in 200", damn he really is old.

    Posted by: andrew | Apr 3, 2013 11:56:50 AM

  22. Then again, the most homophobic organization of all, Christianity, doesn't seem to have deterred many closeted gays from achieving positions of leadership.

    Posted by: Merv | Apr 3, 2013 12:00:12 PM

  23. @Fenrox

    In most cases I would agree with you...

    ...but this is surprising coming from The Zenmaster that used to coach Dennis Rodman.

    That's what makes it a newsworthy item....even if Phil thinks that gays are freaks, how can you be prejudiced against freaks when you coached Dennis Rodman (who, nevertheless, did his damn job).

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Apr 3, 2013 12:20:44 PM

  24. Just because he's a smart coach won't guarantee that he isn't also a bigot.

    Sad. His apology for the joke was weak, too...


    Posted by: TonyJazz | Apr 3, 2013 12:52:43 PM

  25. Of course this moron has seen a gay player or coach in the NBA- he did not recognized him because in his tiny brain he has the bigot view that gay men are not real men and would never play pro sports!

    Posted by: jaragon | Apr 3, 2013 6:12:16 PM

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