The first gay NBA star to come out publicly, John Amaechi, says he doesn’t think Kobe Bryant “is any more homophobic than the average person, or most certainly your average person in sports,” and adds, “I’m surprised that people are surprised. This is common language when I played. It was an everyday word that I heard. I haven’t seen anything new put in place (by the NBA) to tackle homophobia. There’s no reason for it to somehow get better.”
Bryant Tuesday night called a referee a “fucking fag.”
Amaechi, who left professional basketball in 2003, told USA Today, “When [Kobe Bryant] talks, not just young people but sports fans in general listen. They mimic. He sets a tone that says, “This is acceptable language when you are frustrated.” It isn’t acceptable language. That’s the larger extent of the damage. That’s like a Glenn Beck non-apology. With a few more words well-chosen he could do some good.”
Asked if Bryant’s action Tuesday would stop a gay NBA player from coming out, Amaechi said, “Let’s face it, any gay teammate he has, any gay player playing on a team that he plays against is now, as they were before probably, critically aware that the ultimate insult that someone uses to put someone down is talking about you. That does want to make you take a step back and think again about whether you want to really open yourself up to that extra animosity.”
“The problem we have now is because of the way we don’t address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they’re like a woman or worse, that they’re gay.
“We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I’ve been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We’ve got to mirror that progress.”
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