Former NBA player John Amaechi is one of the few people who know how Jason Collins might have felt before coming out this week.
On Saturday’s Up with Steve Kornacki, he sat down for a one-on-one conversation about how Collins’ announcement could change the culture in the NBA and the emotional and physical toll of denying one’s identity can have on a player.
“Athletes only perform at their peak if they feel safe, secure, supported, and if they don’t have to hide,” Amaechi said while describing conversations with NBA commissioner David Stern. There is still much work to be done; the Rutgers coach that hurled homophobic slurs at players may have been fired, but it’s still a regular occurrence. As Amaechi put it, “I don’t think that people realize quite how fully the language of misogyny, the language of homophobia, is the language of sports.”
Watch the interview and the rest of the conversation, and tune in at 8 a.m. EST Saturday and Sunday for more Up with Steve Kornacki.