John Amaechi explains why he didn’t come out as gay during his playing days

amaechi-jazzJohn Amaechi has recently spoke out on why he hasn’t come out openly as gay during his playing days. Ex-NBA player said he did not feel safe.

“My teammates knew about this. We didn’t talk about it, but they knew. I was afraid I’d lose my job. I wasn’t safe,” Amaechi said.

“Knowing I’d get traded to Utah, I knew it wasn’t the right time to do it. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan hated me for the fact that I loved reading books all the time, thinking that it would spoil my motivation. Based on that, I never thought about coming out,” Amaechi added.

Amaechi spent 5 years in the NBA, playing for Cleveland, Orlando and Utah. During his best season, with Orlando Magic (99-00), Amaechi averaged 10.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg per game, playing 80 games (53 started), in 21.1 minutes per match.

Speaking of his Orlando Magic days, Amaechi noted that it was a pleasure being a part of that team.

“Teammates took care of me. It was really a pleasure,” he said.

When asked if he was directly offended by fellow athletes about his sexuality, Amaechi said that he did not take anything directly, but in general such talks did occur, and it did hurt him indirectly.

“I am tired of people criticizing me. I am an atheist, but I’ve read the Bible. The last two days I’ve spent on Twitter, blocking people who felt they were given green light to say bad things about a human being at a distance,” he said.

Answering a question on why he didn’t leave Orlando after being offered a solid $10 million contract by the LA Lakers, Amaechi revealed his reasons.

“It was a lot more than $10 million. And yes, I did stay in Orlando for specific reason. It would probably be hard to understand in the context of sports, but that’s what it was,” Amaechi said.

“The year before I joined the Orlando Magic, no one wanted me. They used to say that I cannot jump or run, and that the only thing I have is a decent shot. Plus, I was an Englishman. Then Doc Rivers (Magic coach) came along and gave me a shot,” Amaechi recalls.

“The next year there were 17 teams or so wanting to sign me. They were sending me packages of deals and so on. The Magic organization said they couldn’t pay me the same salary, and it was a personal principle for me. So i stayed. I wanted to go to LA, but not because I wanted to leave Magic. I knew LA Lakers would win championships. However, I didn’t ignore my principles,” Amaechi explained.

Recently NBA center Jason Collins announced he is gay, becoming the first active male player in a major American team sport to come out. Amaechi spoke on the subject.

“I am very proud of Jason’s coming out. I’ve spoken to him before, I knew about the issue, and we even talked to him how he was going to come out. I was pleased to see his family behind him, and also seeing support from his friends and even other athletes,” he said.

According to Amaechi, the NBA itself as an organization was ready for such a move.

“I spoke to David Stern about the issue. Jason came out in the right time, in the right place. As a human being, Jason is everything we wish our athletes would be like. He’s a hardworker. He’s never going to be a super scorer, but he’s a solid player. We should be proud of him,” Amaechi said.


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