You Can’t Be Gay in the NBA

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About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.


  1. The “gayness” of this doesn’t upset me. I know gay people, I love gay people and I’m glad (at least in Mass.) they have equal rights in the form of legal marriage.

    What gets me is the softness of it all.

    Players holding hands?? It’s just weird. To be fair, so are the ass-slaps (I never understood them and didn’t like being on the receiving end, because dammit some guys hit HARD). But I’d have the same reaction if I saw a player—either during or after the game—walking down the tunnel with their wives or girlfriends being all snuggly. It’s not the right time. You either need to get your head into the game or take care of all the postgame activities, and then feel free to do whatever you want.

    I want my players tough and hyper focused on the task at hand. I don’t want them holding hands or playing grab-ass in the tunnel. That’s not homophobic or bigoted, it’s expecting highly paid professionals to do their job and stop playing around like weirdos.

  2. Max Ornstein says:

    The game’s over, the job’s done and done well—they won that game—unless you want to count saying “both teams played hard” a few times as part of the job description. And even if you do, there’s no way to derive softness from a postgame interview, and I don’t think you need hyper-focus to do it. Unless your name is DeMarcus Cousins.

    Aside from the significance that we, culturally, put onto the hand-holding (that is, in America, if two guys hold hands, it’s going to be read as a statement about sexuality), I don’t think there’s much difference than if they walked off arms around each others shoulders, or chest bumping their way through the hallway to the locker room in celebration. Players show emotion just like anyone does when they accomplish a goal.

    Personally, I read it as a botched attempt/display at camaraderie (attempt/display because I’m not inside Reggie Evans’ head and don’t know how he received it) due to a cultural disconnect in Leandro Barbosa and in us.

    We forget Leandro Barbosa is from Brazil, a place where it’s more normal for two heterosexual guys to hold hands because it’s a more affectionate culture than ours is as a whole. In my opinion, it’s a case of an action in one culture meaning something entirely different in a second culture, and showing that second culture’s ignorance as a result. Likewise, Leandro might have forgotten that he’s in a league full of “pausers” and didn’t realize how his actions would be received. Unlike us, and the people fueling the debate, I doubt he cared very much. He and Reggie Evans still got that W.

    According to Wikipedia’s article on Cheek Kissing, “In the Southern Cone countries of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay it is common (almost standard) between male friends to kiss “a la italiana”, i.e. football players kiss each other to congratulate or to greet.” Imagine the ****storm if Peyton Manning and Tom Brady cheek kissed after a game.


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