The words are from more than a decade ago, but they still hurt today.
“shut up fag boy”
“get off my twitter you fag”
“I hate gay dudes”
These comments are among 78 tweets from 36 current and active NBA players on teams that are homophobic in language, nature or even intent (four other players were on a roster when the list was compiled last month, but they are no longer on an NBA team).
With very few exceptions, all of these messages were sent from the players’ accounts from 2009 through 2013, in some cases years before they joined the league.
While they may not reflect how these players feel about LGBTQ people today — we don’t know until they tell us — all the tweets were still active as of March 4 (some have been deleted after players became aware of this impending story, though Outsports has a screen capture of every tweet).
The players include CJ McCollum, the president of the National Basketball Players Assn., who tweeted “no homo,” as well as superstar Kevin Durant, who tweeted “shut up fag boy.”
“I don’t care how long ago it was, it shows the person’s character, in my opinion,” said Derrick Gordon, who came out publicly as gay while playing basketball at UMass and who now plays professionally in Germany. “It’s a slap in the face to me, to other people in my community. That’s disrespectful. I’m not for people losing their jobs, but words like that can’t be tolerated.”
When “Chris,” a young NBA fan who is gay, saw the tweets, they saddened and angered him.
“It was shocking but not surprising,” Chris said of the number of homophobic tweets he found. “The culture of homophobia in sports runs very deep, especially in a hyper-masculine league like the NBA.” Outsports has verified Chris’ identity, but he asked for anonymity out of fear of online attacks from fans of the players or teams.
Being a big NBA fan, Chris decided to check the accounts of some of his favorite players and found various homophobic tweets. He then spent a weekend going through every NBA roster, searching for problematic keywords in tweets.
“It was the league I was most familiar with, and also my favorite to watch,” Chris said. “I wanted to make sure I was rooting for the right people.”
From his research: “Fag” showed up in 29 tweets, “gay” in 40 (and not complimentary), and the phrase “no homo” in 17.
Four of the players on the list — Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zach LaVine and JaVale McGee — represented the United States at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. That’s a third of the U.S. Olympic Team last year.
Of the 20 NBA teams currently in position for the playoffs, 90% of them have at least one athlete on the list of players who tweeted anti-LGBTQ language or messages (the Celtics and Bucks currently have no one on the list).
Most of the tweets got virtually no interaction at the time, which might explain how they have gone unnoticed until now.
There is one glaring exception.
This tweet by Durant from 2009, when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, got over 7,500 retweets and over 6,600 likes and was still on his timeline as of noon Pacific time March 4, when it was removed.
Of the 78 homophobic tweets, 70 were sent from 2009 to 2013.
Not coincidentally, Jason Collins became the first active NBA player to come out as gay in 2013, raising significant awareness of LGBTQ issues — and the presence of gay players — in the NBA.
The NBA also might be taking a stricter line on homophobic comments by players. So it’s possible that players with anti-gay views simply don’t express them publicly today.
“Culture as a whole has changed,” said Anthony Nicodemo, a successful high school basketball coach in New York who came out publicly as gay several years ago. “Our culture as a nation has changed over the last 10 years. And I’m sure if you contacted the majority of those players, they have some regret. Some of them may not even remember they had tweeted that.”
Collins — who played as an openly gay player the last couple regular-season months and then playoffs of the 2013-14 season — has been speaking to NBA rookies at the league’s annual symposium since 2015.
He has noticed a change.
“What I try to do is unpack that language, and how harmful and hurtful that language is,” Collins told Outsports. “I started doing this in 2015, and each year it has gotten a lot better.
“We usually start with a simple question, ‘How many of you know someone personally who’s in the LGBTQ community?’ From 2015 to the last time I spoke to the players, more and more hands go up, and just about every single person in those breakout sessions has a close family member or friend who’s a member of the community. I think that just speaks to our country.”
Collins also remembers a time — about when most of these tweets were sent — when attitudes were different.
“When I was playing for the Boston Celtics, I was out to my friends and family but I wasn’t out publicly,” Collins said. “In late October-November , I kept a journal. Before, I would hear the words, but I never really documented it. Reading [these tweets] reminded me a lot of my journal that I kept, and I stopped after two weeks, because it was just … you hear it, but you don’t really realize how much casual homophobia there was. Mind you, this was in the locker room in 2012.
“But some of those same guys who I heard using those words were some of my biggest supporters — allies who had my back when I came out publicly. Speaking from my experience, there is a disconnect sometimes between someone who uses casual homophobia, and then once you show them who you are, they will step up and have your back.”
For Chris, the fact that these tweets were still publicly available for him to find in 2022 hurts. He doesn’t excuse the age of the athlete when the comment was made, though he did say he hoped these players matured.
“Just because it’s not OK and recognized as hurtful now, doesn’t make it not-hurtful then,” he said. Chris said he was bullied when he was younger and quit playing sports because of bullying. Seeing tweets from players who were about the same age as he was when he was bullied “did bring back some negative memories, but I’m in a safe place right now and I made it out.”
Gordon agreed — The fact these tweets happened years ago doesn’t simply excuse them for him.
“I don’t care how long ago it was, when you’re talking about putting a bullet in someone’s head or some of this language, that’s totally disrespectful,” he said. “I’ve been openly gay for many years now. Seeing a lot of things and hearing a lot of things, I have a short leash when it comes to stuff like that.
“I don’t care what job you have, there’s no tolerance for that.”
As for the age of the players when some of these tweets were made, Chris said his personal experience being bullied didn’t excuse it.
“Calling someone the ‘f-slur’ when he was 14? I’ve seen 12-year-olds beat up their classmates for being gay.”
Oshae Brissett of the Indiana Pacers, now 23, was 12 and 13 when he posted nine homophobic tweets in a two-year span. Some examples:
- “you want all the guys on the street to love you ew your gay”
- “you sound like a girl.. Youyr so gay lool”
- “OMFG why in gods good name would anyone cut them self for a fag”
- “you are a fag”
- “get off my twitter you fag”
One common slur used in various tweets was “no homo,” which came into vogue over 10 years ago as a way for a man to compliment another man without it being taken “the wrong way.” We’ve heard many people try to excuse it, but Chris is not buying it.
“‘No homo’ as a phrase promotes a negative connotation in regards to gay men, as if we are less-than,” Chris said. “It’s still extremely harmful and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to wake up.”
As a coach and educator, Nicodemo said he still hears “no homo” around teenagers — even being out as a gay man — though the culture in basketball has improved.
“Kids today sometimes say ‘no homo’ or something like that, but there has unquestionably been a shift,” he said.
Gordon concurred that that term was in some circles commonplace, though saying “that term should be eliminated. It’s just disrespectful.”
The worst of the tweets was sent by Torrey Craig, 31, now with the Phoenix Suns, who retweeted an allusion to violence in 2011:
“If someone talks about putting a bullet in someone’s head, that’s beyond ‘I hate gay people,’” Nicodemo said. “That’s hard to grasp. It makes you wonder, has someone like that really changed?”
The online presence of these tweets in 2022, even though written years ago, points to a cultural problem with athletes and anti-gay language. In our years of telling coming-out stories, hearing these words has been referenced as one big reason many young athletes stayed closeted.
Words matter, even if the person saying them says they mean no harm.
Regardless of intended harm, now that these tweets are coming to light, Nicodemo said every one of these NBA players owes the public an explanation.
“I’d love to hear these players’ thoughts now,” he said. “Do you still feel that way?”
Chris’ goal in bringing these tweets to Outsports’ attention was similar to Nicodemo’s conclusion:
“All I want from these players is accountability and an apology.”
Here are the tweets sent by players who are now or recently in the NBA, along with the year posted. We have included the links, though many links will likely go dead once this is public (some players have already been notified of this story and deleted their tweets). Outsports verified that all links were active as of noon PST March 4 and has screen-captures of every one of them.
“I just saw the longest v neck t-shirt ever! I swear it went down to the dudes belly button... Kinda homo “/2014
“shut up fag boy”/2009
“you sound gay son”/2009
New York Knicks
In French used “no homo” in two 2012 tweets
“Bitches be gay today, bi tommorow, and pregnant sunday ha”/2014
“Why is it so many niggas dressin up like girls and puttin on wigs tryna be funny. Shit gay 100%”/2015
“stop all that gay shit”/2012
“@perrionTF @juice_wilson49 both y’all r gay”/2014
“You gay for subbing”/2016
“Attention everybody! Jalen made and Instagram! Follow him or you are a fag Jalen_Hurt4.... Follow!”/2013
“This guy is sooooo gay on my bus”/2012
“you want all the guys on the street to love you ew your gay”/2012“you sound like a girl.. Youyr so gay lool”/2012
“OMFG why in gods good name would anyone cut them self for a fag”/2013
“Calling your friend a fag on bbm but then you realize that you sent it to your mom”/2012
“you are a fag”/2013“follow me back fag”/2012
“get off my twitter you fag/2013@TheRealestEver_ fag”/2012
“u shut up fag boy”/2011
“ur retarded..bro I cant believe wat u showed me today/2011
“Lol Chris Bosh is ugly af and gay as hell”/2012
New Orleans Pelicans
“lol I feel it. He is a good dude tho, no homo. Good god fearing guy. Down to earth too”/2013
San Antonio Spurs
“no u fag you are talking to the worlds littlest man Jordan smith”/2012
“you gay don’t @ me no more for real”/2011
“This nigga in the barber shop is gay as hell smh”/2012
“SpongeBob Tho >> ^__^ ♥♥he gay”/2012
“Trezl & India Fussing About Spongebob -__- Lol he’s gay”/2012
“We got some characters in this class lol...smh— these gay asians is killin me tho”/2011
“Big up to my man no homo @Davidou97one who gonna sugery this morning ! Tu reviendras plus fort petit Kyrie”/2013
“I love you no homo”/2015
James Ennis III
“@ChristianPerez1: Titanic is on :) (no homo)” I love that move”/2011
“dnt play wit me koolaid will get put on his head if he try some gay”/2010
“lol i got you i cant wave thats gay but ill salute you”/2011
“Finna load my iPod up wit new music while I catch up on some #Dexter season 3... Fag !!!/2011
“@_ONEdeep Keith Gross got 2 Two too Tongue rings so fucvk him. Cuz he gauy wit da homo azzss Shyt lmao/2010
Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland
“you chicks really be blessed with being pretty & you really turn gay?? like cmon yo ♂️”/2019
“@IceTr3y: eating some thai food”. Wassup fag!!!”/2011
“@godswill30: Bout 2 pop 1 a these movies in...hit me skype fag”/2011
“the president of the team was trynna get me bopped lol smh how u play fag”/2011
“obi u shut up I been grinding fag!!!!”/2011
“@J_Flynn wassup u fag how that bum azz hip, pause”/2011
“boi what’s good why u aint hit me up when u got bak to the Chi Fag pause!!!!”/2011
“what up my dude imma b in houston on june 10 get at me fag............PAUSE”/2010
“broski wassup with u fag!!!!!”/2011
“@TheDaSeanButler how’s the knee fag????”/2011
“@JackMcClinton ------a what u doing home fag???”/2011
“happy bday fag!!!!!!”/2011
“u fag ok Gloves are off PAUSE”/2010
“when u come home fag!!!!”/2011
Portland Trail Blazers
Dennis Smith Jr.
“@Bottoms_5 you homo bra”/2014
“That gay dude messed it up”/2014
“naw Rick #youstillsinglebecause u still got homo tendencies lol”/2010
“Can someone tell @RasualButler45 to holla at me! No Homo!”/2009
“@Carley_Kocel you gay”/2012
Golden State Warriors
“@efields04 shut up gay boy”/2011
Los Angeles Lakers
“@JBoogie_23 u know ion do that gay sh.t”/2011
Los Angeles Clippers
“@CIROCOBAMA252 nigga you gay lol”/2011
“@PureEnouGhh you be actin gay yo”/2010
“RT“@arodd_15: All gay niggas need a bullet put in their head!”....haha”/2011
“oh yea...I hate gay dudes”/2011
“Dis cheerleader so gay”/2011
“No homo on the last tweet....the masseuse was blind......”/2009
These players are not currently on a roster, though they were when this list was compiled in January and early February:
“pause mega gay”/2011
“and you are right again. your naming different sins that are often committed such as being gay. There all sins regardless.”2012
“gah ur a fag”/2012
“nigga u gay #boondocks”/2012