JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

What Jason Collins has to look forward to …

In the handful of days since the world found out that Jason Collins is (gasp!) gay, we’ve been presented with one seemingly heartfelt platitude after another. Two presidents (Obama and Clinton) called to wish Collins mazel tov. Players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Love Tweeted out support. The reaction, in short, has been wonderful; a Disney movie brought to life, sans the sap music and shooting stars.

This is not reality.

Want reality? Real reality? Here’s the video clip from the aftermath of yesterday’s Celtics-Knicks game, when Jordan Crawford, a Boston nobody, seems to tell Carmelo Anthony, “My boy fucked your wife.”

This, if you’ve been living in a cave, is reference to Anthony’s earlier altercation with Kevin Garnett, the Celtic center who apparently told New York’s star that his wife’s vagina tastes of Honey Nut Cheerios (a cereal I absolutely love, for the record).

Jason Collins, take note.

The NBA is filled with enlightened men; men who graduated college; men who have seen and absorbed the world; men like Kobe, who is thoughtful and intelligent and worldly. It is also, however, overloaded with buffoons like Crawford, who think it’s appropriate (funny, even) to sling shit about another man’s wife. There are, oh, 200 Jordan Crawfords in the NBA, and they’ll say everything and anything that enters their tiny cranial lobes.

“My boy fucked your wife” is the sibling of, “So you take it up the ass” and “Whose dick have you sucked today?” and “Fucking faggot” and “Queer motherfucker” and any other creative homophobic slur that can—and, you can be assured, will—be uttered.

Jason Collins isn’t Jackie Robinson. We’re no longer living in the 1940s, and gay rights have progressed faster than most anyone could have imagined. But professional sports—even those leagues where most of the participants have attended at least some college—tend to merge juvenile and antiquated thinking into one oft-ugly package.

Come 2013-14, I suspect Collins will learn this all too well.

PS: I’ve been reminded, by many, that Kobe has repeatedly used “faggot.” Maybe my interpretation of enlightened ain’t exactly on point. Sigh.