John Amaechi, played five seasons in the NBA, and came out to the public as gay, after his career ended.
Amaechi spoke to the USA Today, about Kobe Bryant’s homophobic slur:
Q: What was your first impression when you heard Bryant’s remark?
A: I’m surprised that people are surprised. This is common language when I played. It was an everyday word that I heard. I haven’t seen anything new put in place (by the NBA) to tackle homophobia. There’s no reason for it to somehow get better.
Q: And what do you think of Bryant’s statement of “apology”?
A: I suppose that’s the typical, “I apologize if you’re offended”‘ type of comment. I doubt very much when he said that that he thought Bennie was a pile of sticks. There’s only one contemporary meaning for that.
The problem we have now is because of the way we don’t address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they’re like a woman or worse, that they’re gay.
We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I’ve been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We’ve got to mirror that progress.
Amaechi played for the Cavs, Magic, and Jazz. Many know his name, from the stories that he told in his memoir Man in the Middle, a book about being a gay professional athlete.