InterBasket > profiles > Amaechi
  InterBasket > Player Profiles > John Amaechi, England > talk 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.

"We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'Have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry." - NBA commissioner David Stern

"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)

"With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy.  So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates -- we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor." - LeBron James

"As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm fine.  As far as business-wise, I'm sure I could play with him. But I think it would create a little awkwardness in the locker room." - Philadelphia Sixers forward Shavlik Randolph

"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

"I'm the type of dude who don't give a fuck. I don't care what you are as long as you're doing what you're supposed to be doing on the court. You could be the most flaming (guy) on earth and answer to boyfriend and kiss him after the game as long as you don't try it with me. I just want to win. And that's how I am. To each his own, be yourself, and be proud of it. Everything else is just a bunch of crap." - Tracy McGrady, played with Amaechi in Orlando

"For real? He's gay for real?  Nowadays it's proven that people can live double lives. I watch a lot of TV, so I see a lot of sick perverted stuff about married men running around with gay guys and all types of foolishness.  As long as he don't make any advances toward me I'm fine with it," he said. "As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself like a good person, I'd be fine with it."  - Philadelphia center Steven Hunter

"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

ďI give him a lot of respect for doing this, the reason is because youíve got a lot of people who try to be under cover or sneaky. At least he came out and said, ĎHey, Iím this. Whatever. Hate it or love it. This is who I am.í So I give him respect for that.  But am I with it? No. Iím totally against it for me. But everybody has to live their own life. I can only speak for myself.Ē-Al Jefferson (Boston Herald)

ďIím sure it would be very difficult.  Anybody who is gay has to be brave, because as a guy you still have to be tough in our society. If you have injuries, you have to play through it. You canít be out too long or people will say youíre soft.Ē  -Michael Olowokandi (Boston Herald)

"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

John Amaechi Profile

Name: John Ekwugha Amaechi (ah-mee-chee)
Position: Center/Forward
Nickname: Meech
Born: 11/26/1970
Status: Retired
Origin: Manchester, England
Height: 6-10/2,08
Weight: 270lbs/122,5
Schools: Penn State 1995
Drafted: Undrafted
Languages: English
Website: & 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.
Amaechi finished his unremarkable NBA career with the distinction of scoring the first NBA points in the 21st century.  Other than that, Amaechi may have gone down as just another player without much fanfare, but on February 07, 2007, news leaked out that John Amaechi would be coming out as gay. 

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 ManBritish Basketball ForumNBA Basketball Forum Article(s): One-On-One Interview with John Amaechi (, 100 Great Black Britons: John Amaechi (100, 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