Phil Jackson has entered the debate about gay athletes in professional sports, saying that he never ran into a gay player during his legendary coaching career.
In an interview with HuffPost Live, Jackson said it was “ridiculous” to ask if NBA teams need to be more inclusive.
“There’s no inclusiveness to be had,” Jackson said.
The subject of openly gay athletes in professional sports has blown up recently, thanks in part to concerted effort on the part of professional leagues and individual players to speak in support of LGBT issues. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is among the most vocal, writing an editorial for CNN in support of gay professional athletes.
“Players — Those of you worried about a gay teammate checking out your ass in the shower, or hitting on you in the steam room, or bringing too much attention to the team — I have four simple words for you. Grow the f*** up,” Kluwe wrote. “This is our job, we are adults, so would you kindly act like one?”
The topic of gay professional athletes has also been bolstered by reports that a current NFL player is considering coming out in the next few months. The player noted that he’s reluctant to come out not because of what his teammates might think, but the way fans could react.
Free agent linebacker Scott Fujita understands the concern.
“The coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside,” Fujita said. “The way I’ve seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging.
“Guys are more accepting than they used to be. Even those who raise personal objections to homosexuality, some of whom are good friends of mine, would still be able to coexist and accept a gay teammate.”
As for Phil Jackson, he may have forgotten his experiences coaching against John Ameche, who later came out as gay, or may have just meant that the NBA has never had a current player come out as gay.