NBA Local Special: February 8

Editor's note: ESPN.com is waking up early in the morning and aggregating news from papers around the country to bring you the latest NBA talk.

Previous Reports:

Jan. 30 | Jan. 31 | Feb. 1 | Feb. 2 | Feb. 5 | Feb. 6

Sloan: 'I Didn't Know'
The longtime Jazz coach, however, said Wednesday that he did not know Amaechi was gay. He acknowledged that their relationship was "shaky - we didn't see eye to eye on a few things," but did not address Amaechi's accusation of anti-gay innuendo specifically. Would knowing about Amaechi's sexuality have mattered? "Oh yeah, it would have probably mattered," Sloan said. "I don't know exactly, but I always have people's feelings at heart ... People do what they want to do. I don't have a problem with that." -- Salt Lake Tribune

Amaechi One Of Worst Jazz Players Ever
Let's be clear about one thing. This isn't about John Amaechi's sexual orientation or his decision to write about being a gay man in the NBA in a soon-to-be-released book. This is about John Amaechi, basketball player with the Utah Jazz from 2001-03. Because it is, there's little to tell. That's because John Amaechi remains one of the worst players in franchise history. I'm not Amaechi-bashing here ... Amaechi took about $6 million of Larry Miller's money and didn't run ... didn't shoot ... didn't rebound. Looking back, the price tag for his astonishingly unproductive layover in Utah is mind-boggling. I'm just stating a fact ... During his second season, Amaechi became a member of a rebellious clique that also included Mark Jackson and DeShawn Stevenson. They all were unhappy with the roles, and their discontent fractured a locker room that John Stockton and Karl Malone had run relatively smoothly for 15 years. Although Stockton never said anything to me, others insist that the off-the-court turmoil contributed to his decision to retire after the Jazz were eliminated from the 2003 playoffs. -- Salt Lake Tribune

'Brokeback' Ban Was Wrong
Jazz owner Larry H. Miller has changed his views of the gay and lesbian community enough to acknowledge he was wrong to ban the movie "Brokeback Mountain" from his theaters. Have his feelings evolved enough to accept an openly gay player on his basketball team? He doesn't know. Wednesday, when word spread that former Jazz player John Amaechi is releasing a book in which he reveals he is gay, Miller said he probably would allow "Brokeback Mountain" to be shown if the movie was released now, calling his ban a bad decision -- Salt Lake Tribune

Amaechi's Coming Out; So What?
So John Amaechi is gay. What am I supposed to do about that, forget he was a disappointing player who didn't work terribly hard? Nominate his book for a Pulitzer in literature? Maybe I should do nothing. Treat it as though Wednesday's breaking story really wasn't such a big deal. Consider it a mildly interesting news item on an average-at-best NBA player. Of course I can't totally ignore the story, since he played two uneventful seasons in Utah. A player's sexual preference is apparently part of the media's job, though as far as I can tell it doesn't have much to do with how he shoots a 10-foot jumper (which, by the way, is horribly). Being gay isn't going to hurt or help that. -- Deseret Morning News

Coming Out Very Unlikely
John Amaechi's admission that he was a gay player in the NBA seems courageous, except he shouted it from London, where he lives in retirement. That's like challenging the neighborhood bully while backpedaling furiously. No doubt, it's rather admirable for Amaechi -- a journeyman center who was waived by the Knicks in January 2004 and called it quits after five seasons -- to be so open in his upcoming book. In some respects, his announcement was refreshing, different, honest and even welcome in a society in which some folks raised hell about two men sharing a candy bar in a Super Bowl commercial. But courageous? We haven't seen that yet. -- Newsday

Active Gay Player Would Pose Security Challenges
An openly gay active player would pose security challenges for a league that's been repeatedly embarrassed by ugly exchanges between players and fans. Corporate sponsors might be spooked by even the whiff of controversy. Amaechi would also face plenty of fire from opponents - and maybe even his own teammates. "I think to have a current player come out and say he's gay, rightly or wrongly, there's going to be a reaction from the stands and from inside the locker room," said one NBA Eastern Conference executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That's what you'd have because now you're talking about playing across the country in 29 other markets. It would certainly be a distraction for the player and for the team." -- New York Daily News

Amaechi First In NBA To Come Out
Cavs forward Donyell Marshall, who played with Amaechi on the Jazz in 2001-02, said it wasn't common knowledge in the locker room. "I don't think the team knew at the time. I didn't know,'' Marshall said. "I was surprised when I saw that Greg had asked him the question. When I talked with him, it was always about his hometown. He's a very intelligent guy.'' ... LeBron James said that if a player who was already in the league were to come out, it might lead to trust issues with teammates. "We spend so much time together, we're like family,'' James said. "You take showers together, you're on the bus, you talk about things. With teammates, you have to be trustworthy. If you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, you're not trustworthy. It's the locker room code; it's a trust factor.'' -- Akron Beacon-Journal

Former Cavalier To Admit He's Gay
Cavs forward LeBron James said he doesn't know how he'd react to playing with a gay teammate. "It's something I'd have to evaluate," he said. "They said he always denied (being gay). One of his biggest regrets was not telling his teammates he was gay. That would be a difficult situation." Cavs forward Donyell Marshall said the players sometimes get miffed by comments from the peanut gallery. "Look at what people say about us in the stands," he said. "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." -- Willoughby News-Herald

Rivers Discusses Amaechi
Doc Rivers said he did not know of Amaechi's sexual orientation, and that he did not care.
"You look at it and say, 'So what? Can he rebound? Can he shoot? Can he defend?' ... John Amaechi was a great kid," Rivers said. "He did as much charity work as anyone in our city. I wish that is what we focused on. Instead, we're focusing on sexual orientation, which I could give a flying flip about." The Celtics coach was asked if he thought today's NBA would be accepting of a homosexual. He said he did not think it would matter in the locker room, "because no subject is taboo in the locker room." He said he would encourage the player to come out, adding, "I'd [also] tell him to keep scoring and keep rebounding. I don't know if we'll see that any time soon." -- Boston Globe

Rivers Not Shocked Ex-Player's Gay
Asked his reaction to the news prior to the Celtics game with Miami last night, Rivers said "nothing, really." "Hell," he added, "I was coach of the year the year John Amaechi started for me at the power forward spot (1999-00), so he was great for me. He was great on our team. I was just talking to someone, and that was one of the stronger locker rooms I've ever had with Darrell Armstrong and all those guys. They all got along, so I didn't think it was an issue." -- Boston Herald

Doleac: John Was A Good Teammate
Backup center Michael Doleac, a teammate of John Amaechi's for two seasons in Orlando, said he hardly viewed it as an issue that Amaechi, in an upcoming book, becomes the first current or former NBA player to acknowledge he is gay. "You hear stuff about it all the time, that it's out there," Doleac said. "John was a smart guy, a great guy, a fun guy to be around on the team, a good teammate." -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Amaechi Announces He Is Gay
Magic forward Pat Garrity, who also was on that team with Amaechi, said Wednesday he was a little surprised by Amaechi's revelation, but that his personal life was never an issue when he played in Orlando. "It's a pretty bold step for him," Garrity said before the Magic played the Raptors in Toronto. "Whether it's what he wanted to do, or it's an attempt to raise conversation about it, I don't know." -- Orlando Sentinel

So Meech Is Gay? Yawn
A young friend of Meech's that he mentored while in Orlando -- Meech worked with lots of troubled teens -- tells me today that John never did anything untoward. Never. Now Meech is the first NBA player to ever come out. My reaction is ... whatever. It's not like leaping out of the closet hasn't been done. It's so '90s, isn't it? Of course, we've never quite come to grips with it in the testosterone-charged sports world and never will. Hope you sell some books, Meech. -- Orlando Sentinel

Team Reacts To Player Being Gay
So what was the reaction in the Sixers' locker room? "He's gay for real?" said a stunned Steven Hunter. Hunter was then asked if he thought there could be any current players in the league who are homosexual. "I guess you gotta be realistic -- I don't know what people do with their personal lives," Hunter said. "It's something that's going to happen someday, it's inevitable," added Kyle Korver when asked if he thought an active player would ever come out. "Either way, it doesn't matter. If he wants to share that information, great. If not, it wouldn't bother me either way." -- Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Amaechi Comes Out Of The Closet
Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell was asked by The Globe and Mail's Michael Grange whether a current NBA player, at the height of his game, could announce he is gay. Mitchell wasn't optimistic. "To be honest, as much as I'd like to think so, human nature being what it is, it would be tough," Mitchell said. "There are just some people that are ignorant about the issues or haven't been educated about them, and it would make it tough." -- Toronto Globe and Mail

Amaechi First NBA Player To Come Out
"I don't think it would be a major issue," said Grant Hill, the optimist of a Magic forward. "I think it would be news at first. But after that, you go back to the business of basketball and trying to win games." Amaechi is embarking on the business of selling his story. His Valentine's Day TV appearance coincides with the release of his book, Man in the Middle, wherein he reportedly accuses Jerry Sloan, the Utah coach, of using "anti-gay innuendo" to describe him. That helps explain why Amaechi has waited until now to announce himself, and why it will take a man of extraordinary talent and courage to do the same when there are still games to win and contracts to sign and teammates who may or may not have seen the light. -- Toronto Star

For Sam, It Goes Beyond Tolerance
Sam Mitchell understands those concerns, calling locker rooms "tough" environments. But he finds it sad that people are still shunned because of their sexual orientation. He hopes his players would follow his example by judging people on their words and actions and not on things beyond their control. "It shouldn't be about tolerance," he said. "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," he said. "I can't change the colour of my skin any more than someone else can change who or what they are." -- Toronto Sun

Amaechi Reaction
Troy Hudson said he was surprised to hear of former teammate John Amaechi's revelation that Amaechi is gay. Hudson played with Amaechi with the Orlando Magic before Hudson came to the Timberwolves in 2002-03. Amaechi, who retired in 2003 after five seasons in the NBA, is the first retired or active NBA player to come out. "Some people have their own preferences and may want to stay under cover for a while, maybe," Hudson said. "Sometimes you get tired of situations like that, where you're hiding stuff from your family, hiding stuff from the world, so maybe he just decided to come out now. Maybe he just got tired of it being a secret." -- St. Paul Pioneer Press

Announcement Comes As Surprise To Hudson
Would Amaechi have been accepted in the NBA had players, coaches and fans known he was gay during his career? "Probably not," Hudson said. "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." From the chatter in the room -- with one player saying, "I hope he tells on everybody. I want to know" -- Hudson probably was right. As for fans heckling a gay player, the Wolves guard said: "They definitely would do that. It's a cruel world." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

Allen On Gay Revelation
Ray Allen said he does not doubt whether somebody currently in the league is gay. "Based on the pure numbers, you figure there has to be," Allen said. "I am just hoping it is clear in my locker room. What can you do? As long as guys are taking care of their business and doing what they need to do basketball-wise, it doesn't affect me." Asked why he would not want a gay teammate, Allen responded: "You don't want to know that there is somebody in your locker room and you are not aware of it. And maybe you had to be careful being where you put yourself in a situation where you might get hit on by a teammate." --

Next Issue: In The Wake Of Snickers
The auto mechanics moved toward each other on Super Bowl Sunday, chewy bite of caramel and peanuts after chewy bite, until the men lip locked. Naturally, each had to rip a handful of hair from his chest to restore male normalcy. Nothing defines America's sexual mores like a Snickers ad. And nothing better explains why a minor name will become a major story this month. An Englishman named John Amaechi says he's gay, and, among his former workers, that's different and worthy of angst. NBA players, after all, are better known for shooting their weapons outside of Indianapolis strip clubs. -- San Antonio Express-News

Sports Not Immune To Day's Issues
We need to ask these questions of our athletes, nevermind that Amaechi's announcement smacked of a public-relations ploy and coincided with a book release -- we still need to ask. Discussion on topics such as this matters, because if we stop talking, we're never going to make advances. Said Trail Blazers' center Joel Przybilla: "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." -- The Oregonian