Derrick Gordon made history in 2014 when he was the first Division I college basketball player to come out as gay, but now that he's graduated, Gordon claims he is being discriminated against by the NBA because of his sexuality.
“Honestly, the NBA is just not ready for an openly gay player right now,” the Seton Hall University grad told New Jersey's Asbury Park Press. “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.”
The player says that he went to combine in July in Las Vegas, an event primarily for scouts from overseas to check out players they might want to recruit for teams abroad. Still, Gordon hoped his performance at the combine would get him noticed by NBA teams, but none contacted him.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere in terms of workouts,” the Seton Hall graduate told the Press. “Nobody was calling. Even after I went to the [Las Vegas] combine in July, I still didn’t get any feedback.”
Multiple NBA scouts spoke to SNY.tv about Gordon's basketball skills. “He’s not an NBA player based on skillset and ability level,” one scout told the site.
The 6-foot-3 guard believes that it wasn't lack of ability that held him back from getting invited to tryouts. “I personally don’t believe it was because of my game,” Gordon told the Press. “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.”
Gordon was disappointed that he wasn't given an opportunity to show what he can do. He averaged 6.8 points per game at the combine, but it didn't help to raise his profile among NBA teams. “I didn’t get a fair shot to show what I could do,” Gordon said. “It was without a doubt because of the fact that I’m gay. I was heartbroken.”
Gordon made history as the first out gay player to play in an NCAA tournament when Seton Hall beat Villanova University in March to make it to the tournament. But this isn't the first time he's spoken out about encountering homophobia in sports. When Gordon first came out in 2014, while at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he experienced teasing by his teammates, leading him to transfer to Seton Hall.
Jason Collins, the first player to come out in the NBA, has served as a mentor to Gordon. Gordon said his mentor was "disappointed" that the guard was not invited to try out for any NBA teams at the combine.
The basketball guard is going through certification to become an emergency medical technician and is planning to take the National Testing Network's firefighter exam. If all ends well, Gordon will be put on a waiting list to become a firefighter in San Francisco.
“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 told the Press. “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.”