profiles > Amaechi
Player Profiles > John Amaechi,
NBA.com: The first player raised in Great Britain (Manchester, England) to play in the NBA, John Amaechi also scored the first NBA points of the new millenium (1/2/00 at Miami). Not drafted by an NBA franchise, he played 28 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995-96, then spent three seasons in Europe -- with Cholet and Limoges in France, with Kinder Bologna in Italy, with Panathinaikos in Greece (which he led to the quarter-finals of the Euro League in 1997-98) and with the Sheffield Sharks in England -- before returning to the NBA with the Orlando Magic in 1999-2000.
Some reactions to John Amaechi's coming out:
"The fact that John has done this, maybe it will give others the comfort or
confidence to come out as well, whether they are playing or retiring..."
Grant Hill, who said he didn't know Amaechi when he was with the Magic.
"If he was on my team, I guess I would have
to protect him from the outsiders, I'm not homophobic or anything. I'm not the
type who judges people, I wish him well." - Shaquille O'Neal,
when asked his reaction had Amaechi come out while on
his team (New York daily News)
"I just knew him as a teammate. He was a cool guy. I didn't expect that [announcement]. He kept it pretty hush-hush. That's his own personal preference. 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 he have been accepted? Probably not. 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." - Troy Hudson, former teammate of Amaechi
"The NBA is a league of diversity. This is the 2007, whatever your professional occupation is and you have a problem with the matter, then there is the definite need for education." -Hubie Brown, former NBA Coach and ABC Color Commentator
"It shouldn't be a big deal to anybody. I
know I've played with gay players and against gay players and it just shouldn't
surprise anybody or be any issue." -Charles Barkley
"If a player came out as gay, he should be treated equally. Everyone should be treated the same anyway regardless of anything. To me, having a gay teammate would be like having a gay brother. I mean, what's the big deal? There are gay people everywhere. I have gay friends. We probably have gay players in the NBA. Except, you know some guys on this team would have a problem with it if they knew who those players were. Not me, but some guys" -Joel Przybilla (Oregonian)
"It shouldn't be about tolerance, it should be about respect. People should treat people as human beings. I wouldn't use the word tolerance. Are people supposed to tolerate me because I'm black? Or are they supposed to treat me with respect because I'm a human being? I grew up in an area of this country (Georgia) where people didn't like you because of the color of your skin. I can't change the colour of my skin any more than someone else can change who or what they are." -Former NBA Player and Coach, Sam Mitchell, Toronto Sun
"Look at what people say about us in the stands. If he was in the league playing, and having to go to arena to arena and listen to people yelling that out, it would be a tough thing... I donít think the team knew at the time. I didnít know. When I talked with him, it was always about his hometown. Heís a very intelligent guy." -Donyell Marshall, News-Herald
"They would have teammates that would accept them for being a good person and a
good teammate, and there would be people who would give him a hard time about
it. I think that's true if you're playing basketball or in an office job.
That's just how the world is right now." -Pat Garrity
"We're all insensitive at times. There's no taboo subject in the locker room. I think if he would have come out they would have got on him jokingly. ... And I actually think that when guys do come out, when that day happens, it will make it easier." -Celtics coach Doc Rivers
ďThe only thing I think would make guys feel weird about it is if you played with the guy and you looked back, you might start wondering things,Ē he said. ďBut I guess itís become so common and so accepted, what can you say? I think for years youíve seen it a lot in female professional sports and itís not as big a deal. Itís just when you think of men athletes and youíre supposed to be warriors, itís hard to imagine. But I think as long as you leave your sexual preference outside the arena and the locker room, what can you say to somebody? Itíd be tough (for an active player to come out). Thatís why people leave it behind closed doors. I guess it would be better to leave that your business because it could cause problems.Ē -Delonte West (Boston Herald)
"If he can play, he can play. You should treat him like a man. That's how I've always felt. We're living in different times; we need to think differently." -Nate McMillan, whom also said that he knows of at least one other NBA player that he played with or against who was gay (The Oregonian)
"You hear stuff about it all the time, that it's out there. John was a smart guy, a great guy, a fun guy to be around on the team, a good teammate." -Michael Doleac, Miami backup center, former teammate (Sun-Sentinel)
"Oh yeah, it would have probably mattered. I don't know exactly, but I always have peoples' feelings at heart. People do what they want to do. I don't have a problem with that." - Amaechi's former coach and current coach of the Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan when asked if knowing Amaechi was gay would have mattered
ďI donít know, Itís hard to say. I mean, would his teammates want to play on the same team with him? I donít know. Youíve got to understand teammates take showers with each other. Theyíre around each other every day. I donít know. I canít speak on that. But like I said before, I respect him just coming out and telling people about it. Heís man enough to do that.Ē Al Jefferson when asked about players and fans reactions had he came out when he was active (Boston Herald)
"Center Greg Ostertag, described as a close friend, asked me point-blank in the tunnel, 'Ya gay, dude?' " 'Greg, you have nothing to worry about,' I said. It was clear Greg couldn't have cared less." Amaechi also recounted a text-message he received from Andrei Kirilenko, inviting him to a New Year's Eve party with "your partner, if you have one, someone special to you," Amaechi wrote. "Who it is makes no difference to me." -Excerpts from John Amaechi's Man In The Middle
"It's hugely important for the kids so they don't feel alone in the world. We're role models, he will definitely help a lot of kids growing up to feel better about themselves." - Martina Navratilova
Name: John Ekwugha Amaechi (ah-mee-chee)
Origin: Manchester, England
Schools: Penn State 1995
Website: Meech.org & InterBasket
Teams (jersey): Penn State, Cleveland Cavs, Cholet, Limoges, Kinder Bologna, Panathinaikos, Sheffield Sharks, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz (13), Houston Rockets, New York Knicks
Ibn Notes: Amaechi started playing basketball late in life, but took to it quickly. Spent his first year of college basketball at Vanderbilt before spending his final college years at Penn State, where two of the three years he was a First Time Academic All-American. Undrafted, Amaechi eventually spent 6 years with 5 teams in the NBA as a average NBA center. On 01/02/2000, Amaechi made history by becoming the player to score the first NBA points in the millenium.
Amaechi retired from the NBA in 2002-03, only briefly coming out of
retirement to help England's men's basketball team win the silver medal in the
2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.
He would also appear on ESPN's Ouside the Lines on February 13, 2007 to announce his homosexuality, followed by the release of his book "Man in the Middle" on Feb 14, 2007. John Amaechi becomes the first openly gay NBA basketball player, current or former.
|John Amaechi Links From our forum: John Amaechi Comes Out as Gay Man, British Basketball Forum, NBA Basketball Forum Article(s): One-On-One Interview with John Amaechi (Nba.com.uk), 100 Great Black Britons: John Amaechi (100 Biographies.com), Basketball Does Not Define Me -- Revenge of the Nerd (Basketball Digest, 2001), John Amaechi to Come Out Publicly (AP), Confronting Homosexuality a Major Issue in Sports (Sport Illustrated), Man is Gay? Who Cares. Sportsman is Gay? It's the End of the World as We Know it... (Times Online.co.uk)|