Earlier this month, word broke that a former NBA player would be coming out of the closet very soon.
All manner of hell broke loose for about ten minutes, until it was discovered that the closeted center in question was John Amaechi.
Amaechi, of course, is the scrub out of Penn State who played five NBA seasons over the course of nine years for four different teams. Not exactly Shaquille O’Neal, but hey, he did become the first NBA player to ever come out as a gay man. It’s a nice little story (though I’m not sure we need ESPN cramming his “tell all” book down our throats).
Over the next few days following Amaechi’s announcement, several prominent NBA stars were asked how they would feel about playing with a gay teammate. Plenty of them just went with the company line of “hey, if he’s good, whatever.”
Some – most notably LeBron James – revealed their latent homophobia. Says Bron Bron: “It’s something I’d have to evaluate. You take showers together, you’re on the bus, you talk about things. With teammates, you have to be trustworthy. If you’re gay and you’re not admitting that you are, you’re not trustworthy. It’s the locker room code; it’s a trust factor.”
Right. Okay. Maybe he would have learned some tolerance in college.
While there were some moderately offensive comments about gays issued recently in the sports world, the poop did not hit the proverbial fan until, of all days, Valentine’s Day.
Miami’s own Tim Hardaway was a guest on Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard’s radio show and said the following: “You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.” Yes, he actually said that on the radio.
Amaechi offered a bit of back-handed praise to Hardaway, noting that he was at least honest, while at the same time calling the remarks “ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and show[ing] a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable.”
You took the words right out of my mouth, John. That Hardaway was even allowed a public forum to voice his hate speech is unconscionable. Le Batard, I’m sure, dealt with the situation with his typical good humor (after all, he does have to deal with T.O. I’m sure he’s used to controversy).
Hardaway, on the other hand, should be nothing short of banned from any and all NBA related promotions, which has happened, and have his local businesses boycotted.
Hopefully the next time his presence is announced at a Miami Heat home game, he will be greeted with deafening boos. Of course, the bigger problem for gays today is that he likely won’t be.
Patrick Gibbons is a senior majoring in political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org