Boston Spirit magazine sat down with Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers to talk about gay issues on the Celtics and in the NBA. Rivers opened up about the state of the NBA on this issue, why he is so gay-friendly, and the similarities between the struggles for gay equality and racial equality.
Rivers had been one of the first people to publicly support John Amaechi when he came out of the closet in 2007. Spirit editor David Zimmerman asked Rivers how Amaehi's former teammates reacted when he came out:
I would say it was about half and half. Later on I got some calls from some of his teammates. Some of them brought it up and some didn't some said they were surprised and some said they weren't surprised at all. What I was happiest about is that you could tell it wasn't a big deal for them. Obviously he was a bit removed because he made the announcement when he wasn't playing for us, it was later, but not one guy made a bad comment. It really wasn't a big deal.
Rivers was also asked if the players on the Celtics would support an openly gay teammate:
Absolutely. They would support him first, and then harass him second [laughing] — in a locker room fun way, not in a bad way. He would get razzed just like his teammates would get razzed. There would be no difference or change. I think it would be a one week story at home. Eventually one of the players would get upset because every time you go to a road game, the road reporter who hadn't had a chance to ask the question would want to ask it and the player would finally say, "I'm done with this'" and that’s what would happen.
You can read the full interview with Rivers, in which he also talks about why the NBA gets a bad rap on this issue, and how the League came down on him for saying there was a gay player on the New York Knicks when he was on the team.