Thursday, February 15, 2007

The world-wide leader in homophobe baiting

When retired NBA player John Amaechi came out of the closet, it was announced on ESPN in anticipation of a book, by Amaechi, which was published by ESPN, and ahead of a series of interviews that Amaechi was going to be doing on . . . ESPN.

After the news broke, reporters all over the country -- some employed by ESPN and some not -- began asking NBA players how they would react if they found out one of their current teammates was gay.

There was some talk of the "sneakiness" of hiding your homosexuality. This highlights a tension there seems be among African Americans -- which, of course, most professional basketball players are -- concerning the down-low culture that is perceived to exist in the black community.

But none of the players said anything openly hostile, or said they couldn't bear to share a locker room with a homosexual. Some were outright supportive, and the ones who expressed apprehension tended to be the younger, straight-from-high-school players who have had such sheltered and bizarre life-experiences it's hard to properly quantify anything they say that isn't about what just happened on the court.

Basically it seemed being a gay NBA player wouldn't be the easiest thing in the world but, if you were a likable guy, with thick skin and a strong sense of self, it wouldn't be a huge issue.

Still the press kept fishing and finally, a week later, they found their huckleberry in the form of retired all-star point guard Tim Hardaway.

Yesterday, when prompted by radio host and sometimes ESPN personality Dan Le Batard, Hardaway said some almost comically hateful things about homosexuals-- as in he unequivocally hated them.

Today NBA Commissioner David Stern has officially kicked Hardaway out of the basketball family, and the press condemnations have come pouring in. John Amaechi and his book are right back on ESPN to make comment.

I'm not necessarily saying everyone was in on a conspiracy -- the best conspiracies take on unconscious lives of their own -- or that something might not come out of the dialogue that could follow. Although Hardaway really did come off as an outlier in the whole thing.

I am saying the dead space between the Super Bowl and spring training isn't a bad time for a little homophobe baiting.

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