Former Magic Center becomes first ex-NBA player to Come Out

02/08/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday

1st NBA’er Comes Out

 

Former Orlando Magic Center John Amaechi has become the first US Basketball player to acknowledge that he is gay.

 

Amaechi’s new book, “Man in the Middle” is scheduled to be published next week.  In it, he writes about his reluctance to disclose his sexuality in the homophobic culture of sports.

 

The NY Times reports that only 5 male professional athletes have come out after their careers ended.  Dave Kopay wrote a best selling book after he retired from the NFL in 1972, and Esera Tualo wrote a book in 2002 after he retired.  (roll tape# 1o.q.”positive thing to have happen”)

 

Nadine Smith is Executive Director with the gay rights group Equality Florida

(roll tape#2 o.q.”under the law”)

 Amaechi writes in his new book that he was careful Never to express interest in any teammate or opponent, so as not to ruin “The social fabric of any team”, or as he writes, risk his career.
Neil Guiliano, the President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against defamation, or GLADD.  He told USA Today, “"This is an opportunity to confront the insidious problem of homophobia in sports. GLAAD is calling on media professionals — including and especially sports media — to examine and expose the hostile climate of anti-gay prejudice that continues to keep gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes fearful of living openly"Dave Zirin  writes about sports for the Nation Magazine, and on his blog, edgeofsports.com .  He’s not so certain that Amaechi’s book can do all that (roll tape#3o .q.”who comes out of the closet”)\Although there have been active female athletes, in the WNBA and the Ladies Pro Golf Tournament, who have outed themselves, that has yet to happen in any of the big Major League Sports in America.Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith acknowledges that the first athlete who does do that will mark another advancement in Middle America’s acceptance (roll tape# 4 o.q.”homophobic attitude”)Although it’s been said that at a gay man could not come out and admit his sexual preferences while still a player, Cleveland Cavaliers star Guard LeBron James says just the opposite.Quote in USA Today, James, perhaps the game’s greatest young star, said an NBA player who was NOT open about it could not survive, saying,”"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”.Nation magazine contributor Dave Zirin says James’ is of a younger generation who seemingly is much more comfortable with the idea of a gay teammate than at any other time (roll tape#5 o.q.”21st Century”)When contacted by the Associated Press about Amachie’s announcement,  NBA Commissioner David Stern said, “We have a very diverse league. The question at the N.B.A. is always, ‘Have you got game?’ That’s it, end of inquiry.” 

 

 

 

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