The Talk of “Gay” in the NBA
As a basketball fan, I’m excited with all the “gay” talk going on in the NBA. Here’s a quick rundown of the most recent developments:
• Rick Welts, the president of the Arizona Phoenix Suns, recently came out of the closet. This is an important step forward in the right direction, because the NBA has often been known as an exclusive “hetero” league. The idea of a gay basketball player, president or owner was unheard of not too long ago. But the support Welts has received from visible All-Star players like Steve Nash, and the basketball community as a whole, is paramount to opening new doors of acceptance and evolution in the NBA.
• Grant Hill and other NBA players have partnered up with GLSEN in order to address anti-gay language among teens. Check out the new commercial, here.
• Former Villanova basketball player, Will Sheridan recently came out of the closet. He was a guest on ESPN’s Outside the Lines and the Jim Rome Show (a very testosterone-fueled sports show) to talk about his experience. Guess what he said? It was a non-issue between him and his teammates. Surprised? Me, either. Sheridan proudly pointed out that he and his teammates were there to play basketball, not to focus on sexual preference. He didn’t play in the NBA, but the storyline here is the same. You don’t have to be straight to play basketball on any level. There is room for all. It’s time for the stereotypes and preconceived notions about gay basketball players to disappear for good.
• First it was Kobe Bryant and now it’s Joakim Noah. Both players were caught on camera using an anti-gay slur to express their anger. In the past, the NBA might have swept this under the rug. But we are living in changing times and the tide is moving in a positive direction. Bryant was fined $100,000 for his actions, and Noah was fined $50,000. Both players issued public apologies and denounced the use of such language, and NBA analysts from a variety of networks addressed the issue head on.
As a result of all of these developments, I’m happy to say that there’s now an ongoing conversation about the idea of an openly gay basketball star playing in the NBA. It’s no longer a matter of “what if.” It’s simply a matter of when.
Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson. She is also the author of The Crabapple Tree and a huge sports fan. Every spring, you'll find her glued to her television for March Madness. When she's not watching ESPN, she's busy working on an upcoming non-fiction book project called, My Story is Out: The High School Experience. For more information, visit lyndseydarcangelo.com.