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NCAA College Star Derrick Gordon Says NBA Didn’t Give Him A Shot Because He’s Gay

by Jeff Taylor August 18, 2016

Derrick Gordon

Derrick Gordon, via Outsports, YouTube.

Derrick Gordon made history in 2014 as the first openly gay male basketball player on an NCAA Division I team to play a game. He is also the first player to play in the NCAA tournament with three different teams, Western Kentucky, UMass, and Seton Hall.

But he won’t be moving on to the NBA as many expected. He did not receive a single NBA tryout, and Gordon believes that is because he came out as gay.

Related: Trailblazing Gay And Lesbian Athletes Are “Out To Win” Against Homophobia

“I wasn’t getting anywhere in terms of workouts,” Gordon told Gannett New Jersey on Tuesday. “Nobody was calling. Even after I went to the (Las Vegas) combine in July, I still didn’t get any feedback.”

Instagram Photo

Gordon stood out in his college career mostly for his tenacious defense, hustle and leadership skills. He helped lead UMass to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade. He feels if he had been just any other athlete he would have gotten at least some interest to see what he could do against players at his same level.

“I personally don’t believe it was because of my game,” Gordon said. “I think at least I could have been given a shot to work out (for an NBA team), to play against some of those other players instead of being shut out…I didn’t get a fair shot to show what I could do. It was without a doubt because of the fact that I’m gay. I was heartbroken.”

Instagram Photo

Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay NBA player when he came out in 2013 after playing in the league for years, has become a mentor to Gordon. Collins is disappointed that he wasn’t given a tryout, Gordon reported. Collins has since retired.

Related: Is NBC Sports Homophobic?

The NCAA has said that they will begin considering LGBTQ rights laws in future host cities for tournaments, and the NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte due to the discriminatory HB2.

Gordon has now set his sights on becoming a firefighter, which he announced on Instagram.

Instagram Photo

“I’m excited. Ever since I was little, when the trucks came by and I would hear the alarms go off, it always caught my attention,” Gordon said. “I always pictured myself in the back of a truck, in the passenger’s seat, as the driver. I always thought, if I don’t play basketball, this is what I would love to do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a dangerous job, a career as a firefighter. But it’s a great opportunity.”

Related: Ten Athletes Whose Courage To Come Out Scored Big For The Cause

Still, he wishes he had been given an opportunity to try to make an NBA team.

“Honestly, the NBA is just not ready for an openly gay player right now,” he said. “Maybe it’s going to take some time for it to get to that point. I’m going to support that person, whoever that is. Right now, in 2016, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

Watch a video profile on Derrick Gordon below, produced by Outsports.

Jeff Taylor
Jeff Taylor


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