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Lawrence Frank speaks highly of Jason Collins, NBA’s first openly gay athlete

Jason Collins – who always impressed me as a starter on a tough New Jersey Nets teams that ruled the Eastern Conference before the Pistons overtook them – came out as gay in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated. Ex-Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, who coached Collins in New Jersey, spoke well of the player today. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

Lawrence Frank, Collins coach for years in NJ, calls any potential locker room issues with Collins "non-issues."

Frank to SI: "People underrate the tolerance in the NBA. And I think it will break down barriers for people who were a little ignorant."

Frank: "If you want a professional veteran who can guard the post and be a positive influence in the locker room, Twin is your guy."

If Frank meant Twin “was” your guy, I definitely agree. Now? I’m not so sure. Collins is 34, and regardless of today’s announcement his NBA future was uncertain. I wrote more about Collins’ pending free agency for Pro Basketball Talk.

46 Comments

  • Apr 29, 20133:14 pm
    by Huddy

    Reply

    Its unfortunate how ESPN handles stories like this.  They sit there and go back and forth about how its good, but coaches/GMs need to consider how comfortable their teams are in their locker room…seems pretty offensive to me.  Why do they even discuss the other player’s rights to be homophobic?  Guys don’t “get to be” racist because african americans make them uncomfortable.  The attitude that we have to cater to ignorance is what slows the process down and makes one guy admitting to being gay so profound.  Chris Broussard reports that players would be uncomfortable in the showers, what the hell does anyone know about  the guys they are sharing a shower with at the gym?  Theres no background check…its just dudes showering after working out and the guys who aren’t coming out aren’t any less gay because homophobes don’t want to know who they are…guys are going to have to get over it.

    • Apr 30, 201310:24 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      You don’t have to be homophobic to be uncomfortable with being naked around someone who is gay. This is the same reason we split up male and female showers/locker rooms. Or would you claim that is sexist?

      It’s true that people just need to get over it because alternatives may be too logistically impractical.

      I have yet to read about a single player trying to deny homosexuals the right to play, or even be on his particular team. So as long as they are respecting people’s right to equal treatment, respect their right to feel uncomfortable.

      As for your point about it making no difference if someone is out of the closet or not, it really does change things. It’s not going to bother me if someone is ogling me unless I know about it (and I’m not claiming that gay guys in showers are just going around checking everyone out). Just like it wouldn’t bother me if a waiter spat in my food unless I knew about it. Neither of these things hurt me in any way, but we are conditioned to find them disturbing, so we do.

      In summary, yes, gay athletes deserve all the same rights. But it can also be worthwhile to consider whether their presence will affect any locker room dynamic, just like it would be for someone who smells unusually bad, or someone who likes to tell a lot of off-color jokes, or someone who is easily offended by off-color jokes, or whatever else. It will be far from the top consideration about a guy, but it is one of the minor ones.

  • Apr 29, 20135:19 pm
    by Clint in Flint

    Reply

    I sure am glad Frank is gone.

    • Apr 29, 20135:27 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      I’m not trying to project anything on you, but are you aware of what that comment in response to this article implies? It sounds like you are disagreeing with Frank on the idea that a gay man coming out should be seen as a non issue when determining how he would fit on a team. Is that the stance you are taking? If you are just using a reference to Frank as an excuse to express your dislike for him as a coach, you might want to to say something to separate that feeling from what is being talked about in the article.

      • Apr 29, 20135:44 pm
        by Clint in Flint

        Reply

        When and if I feel I have to explain things to you I’ll let you know. Go fight with someone else.

        • Apr 29, 20135:54 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          I’m not picking a fight, at least not intentionally. I’m trying to explain how that came off. That’s it. If you are ok with it coming off that way, then I guess that is your call. If you actually wanted to come off that way then I would be more inclined to pick a fight. Since it could be construed as an accident I thought it made sense to point out how it reads in context with the article. It was intended as constructive feedback and not picking a fight though.

    • Apr 29, 20135:51 pm
      by G

      Reply

      That’s not how I took that comment, but I agree that it’s a weird way to respond to a post about the first active NBA player announcing he’s gay.

      • Apr 29, 20135:56 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        I’m not saying it was the intent, and I like to think it wasn’t. I just think that given the nature of the article in general it makes sense for him to try to be clear on his thoughts.

        • Apr 29, 20136:15 pm
          by labatts

          Reply

          FWIW, i read it the same way.

          • Apr 30, 201310:58 am
            by tarsier

            agreed

          • Apr 30, 20132:04 pm
            by G

            I get it. My first look at it, I saw it like the guy saw a reference to L. Frank & thought “Frank, what a bad coach. Glad he’s gone”. Based on the guy’s douche-y response to oats, I could have been mistaken.

  • Apr 29, 20136:25 pm
    by Ryan Kelly

    Reply

    Collins is a washed up bum.  Who cares.   

    • Apr 29, 20137:00 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      He’s the first athlete who played in one of the big 4 sports leagues to come out while still actively pursuing a career in that league. That makes it a news story, and at least sort of a big deal from a cultural perspective. As Dan already pointed out in the article, he’s also at the 6 hard fouls on the end of the bench stage of his twilight years, so that definitely mitigates things. If he actually makes a roster next year as the first player to be openly gay while playing, that would be a huge deal. For whatever reason sports tend to be seen as a microcosm of American culture, and breaking that barrier would matter. If he fails to make a roster it will most likely be because he isn’t that good of a basketball player anymore, and then this becomes just another step towards that barrier finally coming down. Still, for an athlete to be willing to try to make that step is worthy of being a news story. What Collins did by coming out is quite brave, even if you are in fact correct that he is washed up.

  • Apr 29, 20137:15 pm
    by sebastian

    Reply

    Lawrence Frank speaks highly of Jason Collins, NBA’s first openly gay atheletic: Put me in the “Who Cares” camp.
    If the guy doesn’t make a roster, it will be because of his poor ROI. Why give this guy the veteran’s minimum, when he will never alter the outcome of any NBA contest. The dude is a scrub. Print that SI!!!
     

    • Apr 29, 20138:59 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      The Frank thing is more about how this story relates to the Pistons specifically, and is worth noting on a Pistons blog.
       
      My problem with the “Who Cares” camp is that it dismisses how brave it was for an active athlete to actually come out. No one has done it. It is really unfair to minimize this by knocking the guy as a scrub. This is definitely a big deal from a cultural perspective, regardless of how big of a deal the guy is as a basketball player. The military and professional sports have often been front runners in gaining social equality. The military has already moved in this direction, and now we finally have sports moving that way too. This is an important step in gay rights, even with Collins being such a low end NBA player. That makes it a news story. 

  • Apr 29, 20139:23 pm
    by Hotep

    Reply

    Collins is a brave man. Good on him. I never liked Frank as a basketball man, but now I like him a lot as a public figure.
     

  • Apr 29, 201310:36 pm
    by oats

    Reply

    I posted this one in reply to a comment that seems missing. If the site runners feel like the original comment was worth deleting then they might as well dump both my response to it and this comment about moderation. As it is my comment looks out of place. I’d rather just have my comment deleted not for being objectionable, but for being unnecessary and referencing a comment that is no longer present. It also seems reasonably easy to figure out what the original comment was based on my response to it, even with the original comment being gone.

    • Apr 29, 201310:37 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      And that was supposed to be a reply to the post directly on top of it on the page… I seem to be making matters worse so I’ll stop now.

      • Apr 30, 20138:48 am
        by I HATE FRANK

        Reply

        I agree Oats completely,

        We can insult one another…

        We can call players soft, Call them a bust, call them a loser, call them dead beat dads, we can falsely accuse them of rape…

        But if the are gay, REDFLAGS POP UP!

        There have been rumors swirling around the league about several NBA players for along time…

        but my post will be deleted again …. SMH

        • Apr 30, 20139:09 am
          by G

          Reply

          The difference is when you call a player out for poor decisions, poor play or showing poor character, you’re calling for accountability. When you call a player out for being gay, that’s bigotry.

        • Apr 30, 20132:19 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          I don’t think you do agree. At least not with me. My problem was I responded to you and your comment was deleted for being in poor taste, and having baseless speculation about someone. Because my response didn’t also disappear, it looked like I was saying something I wasn’t. At the time I brought it up it was right under Hotep’s post, and it looked almost like I was disagreeing with him. When I pointed out that comment was a reply to something, it then became apparent what was deleted and that largely ended the benefit of deleting that original comment. So, given that, I thought it would make sense to drop mine as well.
           
          Honestly, I don’t get what the point is in speculating about any specific player like that anyways. If a guy wants to come out, then good for them. If the guy wants to stay in the closet, well, they have the right to do that too. Not only do those rumors try to out someone without that guy wanting to come out, there’s also a very good chance that the rumor is false. The specific rumor you referenced had to do with a player who actually denied those rumors pretty forcefully. I don’t know how you can see that that kind of thing crosses lines. It very clearly does, and I have no problem with the site runners deciding it wasn’t worth keeping that comment.
           
          You went on to touch on two other things in this last post. Bust, loser, and dead beats are all criticisms of a guy’s on court play as opposed to delving in to the more personal issues. All of that is totally fair game. The accusing players of rape is another matter entirely. If the accusation is truly false, then yeah it is also crossing all kinds of lines. If you bring up an actual rape trial and insinuate the courts may have dropped the ball, well, that’s a lot fewer lines being crossed. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was also tossed out, but it might not be. The main reason is that the legal system is notoriously bad at getting convictions on rape cases, so there is actually a bit of merit to making that kind of claim. I personally think it is crossing lines if there was not conviction or plea deal established, not because that definitively proves innocence but because it is so hard to prove innocence and I don’t think it’s right to demand that proof of innocence. Accusations shouldn’t be held over someone like that, at least not in my opinion. Here’s something that is generally a decent rule of thumb, if you are discussing something that directly relates to how a guy plays basketball then it’s likely fair game. If you are going in to a more personal area and the comment is negative in nature, be aware that you might be stepping over some lines.

  • Apr 30, 20132:17 am
    by haydzzz

    Reply

    This story has been blown way out of proportion, homosexuality is much more accepted in todays society. Maybe in the 80′s and 90′s it would be a story. Good on him but not sure if he should be labelled a hero when there are much more homosexuals who have came out from the start. Also he isnt currently signed to anyone and if he was would he have come out? who knows…

    Also why are we still hearing about lawrence frank!? Rant over lol 

    • Apr 30, 20133:13 am
      by oats

      Reply

      This is directed @haydzzz in case of a reply fail.
       
      For whatever reason there are some aspects of society that are way more progressive than sports, and it is hard to compare these things. It’s at least partially due to the idea that sports are thought of as hyper masculine activities and as such athletes are expected to be similarly hyper masculine. Unfortunately the idea that being gay is a feminine thing also exists, so in a way the lack of gays in the big 4 team sports has been used to justify that line of thinking. People use it to say real men aren’t gay. Some of those feminine actors might be gay, but athletes aren’t. An active player who is also out of the closet might make it a little harder to justify that line of thinking. That absolutely makes it a big deal. What’s more, the fact that the only players in those sports to have come out remained closeted while playing can be used the wrong way. There are people that say those players knew what they were doing was abnormal, and that’s why they had to hide it from their team mates. After all, those real men in pro sports wouldn’t put up with that kind of thing.
      That’s not a straw man argument, I’m paraphrasing things I’ve actually heard. The number of people thinking that way is shrinking, but they are definitely still out there and they are actually a reasonably big group despite being in the minority.
       
      While homosexuality is far more accepted than it used to be, there is also a very vocal backlash against that. It seems more and more inevitable that gay marriages will be legalized eventually, but there is still a big fight getting that reflected in the laws. A bunch of states have actually passed amendments to prevent gay marriage. Every once in awhile someone from Congress says something on the issue, but as a group Congress hasn’t really tackled the issue. What’s more, a lot of what’s been said by some politicians or political pundits on the topic has been deeply troubling. I really don’t see any way to justify thinking this issue is at the point where this sort of thing is no longer a big deal. It seems like a huge deal to me.
       
      I also would say the idea that he is coming out because he doesn’t currently have a team seems strange to me. He’s actively pursuing a new contract. Considering most NBA contracts are guaranteed it makes more sense for him to come out while he has a guaranteed source of income than it does to come out when he is looking for work, or at least it seems that way to me. I really doubt his pending free agency played much of a role in the decision, and I don’t really see much point in speculating about it when Collins has given an adequate explanation for why he’s coming out now. 

      • Apr 30, 20137:32 am
        by haydzzz

        Reply

        It is because basketball is a physical and contact sport but who cares if somebody is gay ! Are we as a society that sensitive!? I’m not sure why its being discussed as such a heroic thing its respectful but Jason hasn’t saved anyone he’s not in a team so right now its just a nice story but in terms of actually taking a step forward in my opinion not much of a difference has been made. All its doing is reiterating that the nba media and government support homosexuality but some people will always be a bit funny with it, we can’t force people to be accepting of others unfortunately

        • Apr 30, 20131:34 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          It may be overblown, but the locker room is not an environment that is generally thought of as the most tolerant place to be. More than that, have you heard how personal fans get when taunting other players? If Collins does play he’ll definitely hear quite a few fans that support him, but he’ll also definitely hear slurs directed his way. I’ll agree this isn’t even remotely close to a Jackie Robinson situation, despite having heard a few people make that comparison. There is a good number of people actively praising Collins for his willingness to come out, but that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was awfully brave. He’s the first active player to come out. I for one think there probably have been a lot of gay players in the major 4 sports, and not the 3 or so that came out after they retired. That right there is why this is a story, because no one has done it before. His career might be done and I agree that would limit the impact this has, but even then we are one step closer to a guy who is playing in the league coming out. Maybe it will be someone else that is the first to play while out of the closet, but if you think Collins didn’t just take a lot of pressure off whoever that person who first plays while openly gay then I think you are mistaken.
           
          I get that this won’t solve the problem. Racism isn’t dead and buried either, and homophobia will continue to live on. The biggest thing going for bigoted attitudes is a lack of exposure with whatever they are bigoted against. Not only would an openly gay pro athlete help start exposing more people to gay people, it will also make it easier for some other people to come out themselves. It’s not going to be some quick shift where this problem just goes away, progress on this sort of thing just moves slower than that. Still, this story represents another small step to a more tolerant society. No, we can’t force tolerance on others. We can do our best to enlighten those people, and do what we can to reach out to the ones we can convince.
           

  • Apr 30, 201310:23 am
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    An insult is a insult…

    HE’S GAY = He Likes Men
    HE’S A BUST = He’s a Failure or will Be a Failure

    Both are hurtful… we call college kids “Bust” before they perform on the NBA level its a unfair Judgement..

    no difference….

    • Apr 30, 201310:39 am
      by G

      Reply

      Calling someone gay isn’t an insult, calling someone a bust is.

      There is a HUGE difference between gay bashing and garden variety insults like “he’s a bust”, “he’s soft”, or “he’s a loser”. I’m not crazy about insults, so don’t think I’m defending them, but there’s a world of difference between dismissively calling someone “loser” and bashing someone for being gay. 

  • Apr 30, 20131:34 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    Wow, I’m betting this article is setting the PP record for most deleted comments.

    • Apr 30, 20131:56 pm
      by G

      Reply

      Probably. I’ve seen a couple where I thought about responding in a “did you really just say that?” sort of way, checked myself, and a little later saw they were disappeared. I’m sure there have been several others that didn’t last even that long.

      I was a bit curious as to how this conversation would play out in this particular forum. The internet is often the last place to go for civil discussion (youtube comments being the best example of the worst), but I’ve always felt like even at their harshest, commentors on this site have followed the more basic rules of civility in debate. 

      Nothing I saw led me to believe that the commentor was anything worse than slightly misguided,   and may have even benefited from discussion. I may have missed some really bad ones, but it mainly looks like they’re playing it safe and deleting all comments that seem iffy.

      • Apr 30, 20132:05 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        It does appear that way. It’s just that I often periodically check the number of comments on an article to see if any discussion has been added that I may wish to participate in. And this is the first time I’ve seen the numbers decrease.

    • Apr 30, 20132:36 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      This post did set the record. Two.

      • Apr 30, 20132:50 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Ah, I simply assumed that if I knew two had vanished, that probably meant a few more had as well.

      • Apr 30, 20132:53 pm
        by G

        Reply

        Really? I suppose it’s encouraging that it was only 2…

        • May 1, 201311:48 am
          by Desolation Row

          Reply

          I agree. 1 is still too many, but I would have expected a lot more. Good on you, Pistons fans. 

  • Apr 30, 20135:19 pm
    by Clint in Flint

    Reply

    Please show me where I said anything about J Collins. Show me where I said anything about being gay. Oats was the one that added that. I posted a post that was anti Frank like 75% of my posts have been. I thought we were done with Frank and I still can’t get away from him. To quote a very famous person, ” and that’s all I got to say about that! “

    • Apr 30, 20135:35 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      No, I didn’t add that. I didn’t say you said that, and I don’t want it to be thought of as me doing that. Here was my first take of things…
       
      Article: Frank is supporting a former player of his that has come out as gay.
      Comment: I’m glad Frank is gone.
       
      Can you maybe see how that comment would be misconstrued that way, given it’s place in relation to the article? I didn’t add anything to what you said, I just pointed out that in the context of responding to this specific article it could be read that way. I pretty quickly realized that might not have been the intention, so I tried to bring it up in a way that made it clear I was not trying to say you were making that connection, but that the connection could be made and it might be beneficial to be a bit more clear about your thoughts. That’s it. It wasn’t some round about way of calling you a bigot or some other such nonsense. It really and truly was just saying that if you were making a complaint about Frank as a coach for reasons largely unrelated to the article that maybe you should consider pointing out your problems aren’t with Frank’s stance, but rather with Frank as a coach.

      • Apr 30, 20136:20 pm
        by Clint in Flint

        Reply

        I can see you like to instigate. I think we can get along fine, you ignore me and I’ll ignore you. 

        • Apr 30, 20136:39 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          I seriously don’t get how I’m instigating. I’m trying to explain my position. I really can’t see any way that I’m crossing any sort of lines, picking fights, or instigating. Fine, if you really feel like you have to ignore me then do so, but I can’t promise I’ll be ignoring you. I tend to respond to things I disagree with, and I can’t say I’ll remember you wanting me to ignore you. I might do so, I might not. If you say something that I find troubling, or even just potentially troubling I’ll almost certainly respond to it. It might even be in a manner like how I’ve done it in this thread, by pointing out that the way you’ve responded doesn’t make your point as clearly as you’d like and that it could be read in a different light. I will continue to try to be as diplomatic about it as I can, but somehow my attempts at politely discussing the subject seem to upset you anyways. Unfortunately, that’s the best offer I can give.  Do with that what you will, but I really won’t substantially change the way I respond to comments because I don’t think I’m crossing any lines.

          • Apr 30, 20136:48 pm
            by Clint in Flint

            I don’t care!

        • Apr 30, 20137:20 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Ummm, Clint:

          Just to let you know, you are the one instigating all the vitriol in this exchange. 

          • Apr 30, 20138:06 pm
            by Clint in Flint

            You are probably right. Rest assured there will be no more posts directed to Mr. Oats.

          • May 1, 20138:21 am
            by G

            @ Clint – To put your original comment in context, the post was about Lawrence Frank’s comments about the first active NBA player to come out. Nothing in the post was referencing Frank’s coaching ability, it was pretty much all talking about Jason Collins. In retrospect, this was probably not the post to come in & start bashing Frank.

  • May 1, 20132:13 pm
    by G

    Reply

    Really? Frank is gay? That’s where you’re going with this?

    For the record, the reason the media rips Tebow (and I would describe it as more of a “love-hate” relationship) is because he sucks as an NFL QB. Remember when he was winning games in Denver? They slobbered all over him. Then he sucked in Denver (and later with the Jets), and the honeymoon was over.

    I can think of several instances when players who were openly christian got much media love – namely the “God’s Team” Lions, and more recently “God’s Linebacker”.

    • May 1, 20135:14 pm
      by G

      Reply

      I think the comment I was replying to got axed, which brings the total censored comments to 3, yes? Rackin’ em up.

      • May 1, 20137:41 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        4 technically. I had one of mine removed by my request. It referenced the problematic part of the original comment to get cut in a way that made it possible to figure out what the original comment actually was. So that’s 4 I’m aware of even if only 3 were actually problem comments. 

  • May 2, 201312:03 am
    by Kevin

    Reply

    Who cares what Frank thinks, especially when it comes to homosexuals.

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