….for the next couple of hours, anyway.
Is Amaechi courageous? Maybe. Maybe not. But what’s important here is the conversation itself. In a sporting world where invisibility reigns, recognition is the antidote. I know Granderson has hung around pro athletes a lot more than I have, but if he doesn’t appreciate incrementalism — that without Amaechi’s post-career admission there can’t be an active player who comes out — then he’s ignoring the nuance of the battle. I’d also be lying if I said that when I first heard earlier this week that a former NBA player was going to come out, one of the first things I hoped for was a good ambassador. With Amaechi, we get that — an intelligent, charming, thoughtful, charitable guy who elevates the discussion. Any discussion, really. Should it matter? Probably not, but practically speaking, Amaechi’s public persona is an important selling point.
I love watching sports, always have; I was a fan long before I was gay. But with the possible exception of the night the Clippers hoist a championship banner in the rafters at Staples, or the presentation of World Series rings to the Dodgers, the moment I look forward to most is the day when I can applaud an openly gay ballplayer during opening introductions. I think anyone over the age of 18 who sports a player’s jersey in public is an unrepentant dork and a drag queen in his own right, but damned if I won’t don that guy’s uni. Because pride is an inexplicable human force.
On the other end of the enlightenment scale, consider the following remarks from the T-Wolves’ Troy Hudson, a former teammate of Amaechi’s, as relayed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Steve Aschburner.
“I just knew him as a teammate,” Hudson said, waving off the small audience of Wolves players. “He was a cool guy. I didn’t expect that [announcement]. He kept it pretty hush-hush.”
“That’s his own personal preference,” Hudson said. “So you can’t fault a man for who they are or what they are. It’s probably a good thing for himself that he finally opened up. He’s probably been going through a lot trying to keep it a secret.”
Would Amaechi have been accepted in the NBA had players, coaches and fans known he was gay during his career?
“Probably not,” Hudson said. “The majority of people in pro sports — I mean, in the world — don’t feel comfortable with that type of person around. Especially in a masculine sport where you’re always touching each other, you have to take showers together. But the way I see it, if you keep it to yourself, I don’t care what you are.”
From the chatter in the room — with one player saying, “I hope he tells on everybody. I want to know” — Hudson probably was right.
Donnie Davies was unavailable for comment.