02.08.07

Stern : We’ve Got Ga(y)me

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism at 10:06 am by

While the New York Times’ Liz Robbins does The Big Lead & NBA Fanhouse a slight disservice in crediting Outsports for the John Amaechi scoop, her item about the former Magic/Jazz big man’s coming-out biography is notable on multiple fronts. While Brian Schmitz has already dismissed the book as some kind of sleazy cash-in, the following passage that Robbins quotes reveals the possibility that Amaechi’s tome might have some redeeming value as, y’know, something worth reading.

“Coming out threatens to expose the homoerotic components of what they prefer to think of as simply male bonding”, Amaechi wrote. “And it generally is. It’s not so much that there’s a repressed homosexuality at play (except for a small minority), only that there’s a tremendous fear that the behavior might be labeled as such. Or, as I heard the anti-gay epithets pour forth that gay men in the locker room would somehow violate this sacred space by sexualizing it.”

Somewhere, Todd Jones is nodding his head. But I digress. Along with a not particularly forthcoming “I wish John the best,” statement from Utah’s Jerry Sloan (of whom Amaechi writes, “I learned great coaches do not make great human beings,”), consider the following response from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“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.”

End of inquiry? Why so curt, Commish? If all that mattered were a player’s abilities, why did Amaechi need to wait until retirement to tell his story? If Amaechi considers the attitudes of Sloan and Larry Miller to have damaged his career prospects (or at the very least, made for an unpleasant work environment), the inquiries are long overdue.

(ADDENDUM : there quite a bit more on this story in Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune, including Sloan denying any knowledge of Amaechi’s sexuality, while the player, “couldn’t help fantasizing about a Latrell Sprewell moment,” with his former coach. Meanwhile, the paper’s Steve Luhm — possibly missing the point of this exercise — helpfully describes Amaechi as “one of the worst Jazz players ever.”)

6 Responses to “Stern : We’ve Got Ga(y)me”

  1. Nick says:

    No doubt that Larry Miller has been trying to recount how many times he was in the same room as Amaechi, washing himself thoroughly and furiously hoping he didn’t catch it. After all, “gay movies” aren’t allowed in his theaters.

  2. LawVibe.com says:

    P.S. The book is coming out February 20th so it’s available for preorder.

  3. josh says:

    The silliest columns have been the ones I’ve read that have somehow suggested gay players have some sort of obligation to come out of the closet during their careers.

    I couldn’t begin to imagine how hard that would be for a player to do that, especially when travelling to opposing arenas.

    My question for David Stern would be whether a fan screaming the word “faggot” or the like would prompt an automatic objection from the stadium. If not, why not?

  4. David Roth says:

    Totally agree, Josh, on the late-coming dudes (King Kauffman at Salon and LZ Granderson at ESPN) getting on Amaechi’s case for somehow not doing enough while he was still a quasi-anonymous active player. As if he wasn’t called fag by Jerry Sloan enough before he came out, and as if they’re in a position to judge. Granderson deserves some credit for talking about sexuality so much in his column, but this angle is way beat, and very silly. I’ll probably do a post on this tomorrow.

  5. Kevin says:

    That Granderson column was just … ugh. As Josh said, that would have to be one of the hardest things for a guy to do, coming out in a hugely homophobic environment.

    Did like this part of the column, though: “I am friends with gay, former pro athletes and look forward to reading Amaechi’s book (to be published by ESPN Books).” Shameless as always.

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