Out gay former NCAA basketball star Derrick Gordon says that he didn’t get a chance to tryout for an NBA team after graduating because he is gay.
Gordon made history when he came out in 2014, becoming the first openly gay male basketball player in Division I history. He broke down another barrier this past spring when he competed in the NCAA Tournament for Seton Hall, becoming the first out gay player to partake in ‘March Madness.’
After unsuccessfully trying to get a tryout with an NBA team, Gordon announced he was going to become a San Francisco firefighter. And while Gordon is thrilled about his next journey, he’s less so about how he was treated by NBA teams.
Said Gordon, “I didn’t get a fair shot … because of the fact that I’m gay.”
“I wasn’t getting anywhere in terms of workouts,” Gordon told Gannett New Jersey via phone Tuesday. “Nobody was calling. Even after I went to the (Las Vegas) combine in July, I still didn’t get any feedback.”
The Las Vegas combine is geared toward scouts from overseas, but still, Gordon thought it could boost his profile. Known mostly for his defense, hustle and leadership, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 6.8 points at the combine. His phone didn’t ring.
“I personally don’t believe it was because of my game,” Gordon said. “I think at least I could have been given a shot to work out (for an NBA team), to play against some of those other players instead of being shut out.”
While players with similar stats have often been considered by NBA teams before, Gordon was unable to gain traction. He explained, “I didn’t get a fair shot to show what I could do. It was without a doubt because of the fact that I’m gay. I was heartbroken.”
Jason Collins, who became the first player in NBA history to come out as gay, was mentoring Gordon and was reportedly “disappointed” that Gordon wasn’t considered. “It felt like a slap in the face,” Gordon said.
Contrasting his experience with the NBA to that at Seton Hall, Gordon said of his college teammates and coaches, “They didn’t care that I was gay, and that’s one of the reasons why we became successful.”
In Gordon’s eyes, the NBA has a gay problem: “Honestly, the NBA is just not ready for an openly gay player right now. Maybe it’s going to take some time for it to get to that point. I’m going to support that person, whoever that is. Right now, in 2016, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”