Dear Coaches Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and Mark Gottfried,
My name is Anthony Nicodemo and I am the boy's varsity basketball coach at Saunders High School in Yonkers, NY. I also happen to be openly gay.
I have admired all three of you as coaches for the duration of my career. I like to consider myself a student of the game, attending clinics and reading as much as possible.
Recently I read John Feinstein's The Legend's Club. One of the best parts of the book was the author's recounting of coach Dean Smith's passion for standing up for the wrongs of society, in particular segregation against African-Americans. This was in 1964.
In 2016 a great injustice to the LGBT community is being done in North Carolina, Mississippi and I'm sure other states in the near future. Transgender people can no longer safely use restrooms and locker rooms. Gay couples might be asked to leave a restaurant because of their sexual orientation. Please understand that Governor McCrory's executive order changes very little. This is a law that must be repealed and directly violates the civil rights of human beings.
The state of North Carolina loves its basketball. You three men carry as much weight as anyone in the state. Because of this I implore you to speak out and let state leaders know how much their actions are hurting an entire community.
Coach K, I can't tell you how powerful it was to closeted athletes everywhere when you voiced your support for now-openly gay college coach Chris Burns. Saying that you would embrace an openly gay player speaks volumes and gives thousands of kids hope.
Chris and I have known each other for 15 years. Laws like HB2 forced us to live in fear most of our careers. I was closeted until I was 35 and Chris until he was 30, what will turn out to be half of our lives (give or take). Seeing people like Jason Collins live an authentic life set the stage for us sharing our own stories and hoping to inspire others.
I often see college coaches speaking out about the NCAA for ridiculous rules and schools who allow students to storm the court. Why not do the same for LGBT folks that live in your community? Think about one of your players or staff members who could be living a double life. They are now considered less-than in the eyes of the law in North Carolina.
I've had the privilege of forging friendships with so many gay athletes and great people since coming out. Friends like Derek Schell, who played Division 2 ball at Hillsdale College, or Matt Kaplon, a division III baseball player from Drew University in New Jersey, struggled for so long because of laws like this. No one should have to suffer the way they did.
While I could never put my success on the basketball court on par with you three, we have the common bond of caring about our players. I receive countless emails from closeted athletes who are struggling and thinking about taking their own lives. I try to treat them like I would my own athletes, nurturing them to a good place in life. I would never want my players to feel this way.
You have a tremendous opportunity and platform to positively promote change. All three of you have contributed to so many causes and have bettered our society. Please take the time to speak out against HB2, because it is the right thing to do. I promise you will help change lives.
You can follow Anthony Nicodemo on Twitter @CoachNicodemo or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.