Tuesday, February 20, 2007

John Amaechi's No Coward

Posted By on Tue, Feb 20, 2007 at 5:54 PM

John Amaechi never dreamed of being a martyr for gay power forwards everywhere
Plain Dealer op-ed columnist Phillip Morris -- one of the few sharp blades in the paper's arsenal of rusty pocket knives -- joins the John Amaechi conversation this morning, dubbing the former Cav a "coward" for not coming out while he was still in the league. Morris is half right: Amaechi, by writing a book about his sexuality after quitting the game, is no hero. He's a shrewd businessman. He also, I think, genuinely wanted to spark a conversation about homophobia. He also has a really cool British accent. But a coward? Amaechi, I'm pretty sure, always dreamed of playing the NBA -- and never dreamed of being a martyr for gay power forwards everywhere. Coming out while in the NBA — easily sports' least tolerant league — would have put a serious dent in that dream. Basketball's not boxing, where you stand alone in a ring, or football, where you and your unearthed skeletons can get lost in the chaos, and maybe even find a pocket of tolerance in the corner of a sweeping locker room. The NBA locker room is a tiny little square, smaller than most of the players' bed rooms. And the players, by and large, are well-meaning but uneducated and unexposed. (More on this in the LA Times and the Washington Post.) Coming out would likely mean getting out. Would it be heroic? Maybe. But is it cowardly to keep your mouth shut, crash the boards, collect your hefty paycheck and go home? Not even close. -- Joe P. Tone


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