By Nick Gallaudet
The American sports world is notoriously homophobic. It’s a traditionally macho culture, and there has never been an openly gay athlete in one of America’s four major men’s sports, including the NBA. In 1991, when Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive, he made an appearance on the Arsenio Hall show and unquestionably denied being gay, claiming, “I’m far from homosexual. Far from it.” Magic’s declaration of heterosexuality was met by an approving roar from the studio audience. In 2007, former NBA player John Amaechi came out as a gay man and was greeted with mixed reactions. Amaechi claimed that he was surprised by America’s reaction and expected it to be much worse than it actually was, but there were still negative comments, some from other former players. Tim Hardaway infamously claimed he would have asked for a gay player to be removed from his team. Last month, Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for directing a gay slur at a referee.