John Amaechi has officially come out of the closet. In case you're hard-of-hearing, he was a forward-center who played five seasons in the NBA for the Cavs, Magic, Jazz, and Rockets. He was raised in England, was a two-time Academic All-American at Penn State, and is a generous philanthropist across the pond through his ABC Foundation. So as if those weren't big enough clues, (Philanthropy? You might as well design costumes for Scissor Sisters.) he disclosed his homosexuality to ESPN's Bob Ley last week and is releasing a book called Man in the Middle through the Worldwide Leader's book imprint. I would have inserted a parenthetical "no homo" after that title, but it obviously is homo.
He looks a bit like Dane Cook here. Either that or the dude from The Mummy. Or a sensitive, well-spoken basketball player.
All--okay, most--jokes aside, great for John Amaechi. Hopefully, he can be accepted for who he is, and hopefully he feels a long-overdue sense of relief and self-empowerment. His book, because of the aforementioned academic success, Britishness, and anecdotes about showering next to a Louisianan who holds an elected post for the NRA and drives an eighteen-wheeler, will probably be a good read. I might even pace some of it on the floor of a Barnes & Noble or buy but never read it once it goes into the $4.99 box.
(I doubt it will mention how much dick he sucked on the court. Pardon my frankness, but when Greg Ostertag is a speed upgrade over you, you have problems. Still, Meech is probably the most successful baller from the UK, which is really sad. Thank God Joel Freeland is in development. [What you know about some Joel Freeland?])
So all's well that ends well for the first openly gay NBA player, right? Not exactly. Turns out professional sports still might not be the most tolerant of enterprises. (Did you know the owner of Amaechi's former team the Jazz banned Brokeback Mountain from all of his theater chains? Tid. Bit.)
Remember that Snickers commercial from the Super Bowl, in which two mechanics accidentally kiss while Lady & Tramping a candy bar? Here are some Bears' and Colts' reactions:
"I hope they got paid a lot of money for that." Maybe these guys just weren't feeling crisp that day.
You're the one with the moustache, Marv.
Were NBA players approached for reactions on the John Amaechi matter? Why, yes, there is a God.
Bron Bron (surely squinting while licking and pursing his lips): "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."
Look, King, maybe during games of Truth or Dare you spill your guts to Daniel Gibson about that time you hit a kid with your Hummer and kept driving, but most people aren't like that. (Not to get on a tangent, but "NBA Truth or Dare" would be a great show. Imagine being on the Cavs' plane during a road trip and watching Bron scream at Zydraunus Ilgauskus, "Man up! Who was your first crush, bitch? Secrets make Baby Jesus cry!")
Steven Hunter: "For real? He's gay for real? Nowadays it's proven that people can live double lives. I watch a lot of TV, so I see a lot of sick perverted stuff about married men running around with gay guys and all types of foolishness."
I wish I said things like "all types of foolishness" on a regular basis. If I have to be more bigoted for that to happen, it's okay with me.
Shavlick Randolph: "As long as you don't bring your gayness on me, I'm fine."
Take it to the chorus...bring your gayness on--go 'head, be gone with it.
Duke: Where Shav learned to be straight.
No matter how you react to these attitudes (most would say they're ignorant and short-sighted), they're typical of the NBA and, if you want to go there, the NBA's audience. (And if you want to go there, young and black. Yeah.) The real question here is how Amaechi's coming out will affect that demographic's opinion of homosexuality, and I'm tempted to believe it will make no difference.
Is this John Amaechi's fault? Of course not. Like many gay people across the world, he was not comfortable with his sexuality and felt the need to hide it from the public, especially since it would have a negative affect on him professionally.
"Hmm...gotta hide that I'm queer. I'd better invest in a whole bunch of sleeveless shirts. Yeah...that's the ticket."
But is John Amaechi taking some kind of courageous stand for homosexuality, as some of the national media has indicated? Hell no. When it really mattered, he decided to play along with the boys. Making this statement now is irrelevant. There are four reasons why Meech will not be the torch-bearer of his own mind.
1) He was a terrabull basketball player.
2) He lives in England, and they're all pretty fruity.
3) He is retired.
4) He is doing this for publicity. Until bloggers guessed right and foiled his plans, he was set to make the announcement on friggin' Valentine's Day to promote the book.
Some of these reasons are directly linked to others; e.g., the only reason Amaechi would be in the public spotlight is if it was because of a publicity stunt, since he was a terrabull player and lives in England. But that doesn't change the fact that Amaechi's revelation doesn't carry much weight.
Did anyone else ever think this was kind of a bank robbery?
How do people learn to respect other people who are different? Most of the time, it's because they got to know and understand those people, and they realized that they weren't so different after all. Until the NBA has an active American player who contributes to his team instead of having his ass dunked on for four different squads in five years, these guys will continue to make the Muhsin Muhammad face at all types of foolishness.
And maybe that day is sooner than we realize...
Did I really need an excuse to reference Yuta Tabuse?
(Not that it has anything to do with this post, but who do you TANBRines think won this round of the 50 Cent-Cam'ron battle?
50 Cent- "Funeral Music"