Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Copy Editor

When not wrangling copy for the MoJo crew, Ian writes about immigration, sports, and Latin America. His work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Wired, and Slate. Got a comment or a tip? Email him: igordon [at] motherjones [dot] com.

Get my RSS |

Yes, Phil Jackson, You Did Know Gay NBA Players

| Fri Apr. 5, 2013 3:39 PM EDT
"Do you know any gay players?"

The NBA career of Hall of Famer Phil Jackson spanned six decades: He played 12 years and snagged two league titles for the New York Knicks before winning 11 more championships as the coach of stars like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. But during all of his time in the league, he said in a Huffington Post Live interview earlier this week, he's "never run into" gay professional basketball players.

 

Maybe Jackson's Zen-ness got in the way of the 67-year-old's memory and common sense, so let's help him out:

  • In 2011, fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said, "Every player has played with gay guys. Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin' idiot." So there's that.
  • John Amaechi, who came out in 2007 after he'd retired (and who's mentioned by Kurt Rambis in the above clip), played five seasons in the league in the 1990s and early aughts. He played in 12 games against Jackson's teams during his career.

More generally, the time when athletes and coaches can deny that there are gay players in pro locker rooms seems to be coming to end. Earlier today, Brendon Ayanbadejo, the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker whose gay-marriage advocacy was criticized by a Maryland state legislator (who in turn was famously blasted by Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe on Deadspin), told the Baltimore Sun today that "up to four" NFL players were considering coming out simultaneously sometime in the not-too-distant future:

"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo said. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.

"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."

The two most-recent big-name athletes to come out of the closet were both soccer players: Robbie Rogers, who played for the US national soccer team, made his announcement in February, while women's star Megan Rapinoe came out before last year's Olympics. And while no NFL, NBA, or Major League Baseball player has ever come out of the closet while still playing, that looks like it will change sooner than later. So if the Zen Master ends up taking a job in an NBA front office, maybe he'll finally run into an openly gay NBA player.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Hugo Chávez Dead at 58

| Tue Mar. 5, 2013 6:57 PM EST

Chávez, pictured here in August 2011, had his first cancer treatment in June of that year.

Hugo Chávez, the firebrand president of Venezuela who has battled cancer since 2011, died Tuesday in Caracas. He was 58 years old.

Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced Chávez's passing in a radio and television address, saying that the 14-year president died at 4:25 p.m. local time. Just hours earlier, Maduro had told the media that the socialist president was entering "his most difficult hours" due to a new, severe respiratory infection.

Chávez was last seen in public on December 10, when he traveled to Cuba two months after his latest reelection for his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months. Rumors about his health—indeed, whether he was still alive—persisted. His Twitter account, @chavezcandanga, sent a trio of tweets on February 18, after several months of silence. His last tweet read:

(Loosely translated: "I'm still holding on to Christ and trust in my doctors and nurses. Until victory forever!! We will live and we will triumph!!!")

A former paratrooper who spent two years in prison after a failed coup in 1992, Chávez took office in 1999, fought off a coup attempt in 2002 and a recall referendum in 2004, and was reelected three times, including in October, when he claimed himself healthy enough for another term. He gained fame for using Venezuela's vast oil revenues to fund his anti-poverty social programs—and for his fiery, anti-imperial rhetoric. He also rubbed plenty of people the wrong way—on both ends of the political spectrum—with his strongman tendencies, his rewriting of the country's constitution, and his alliances with the likes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Maduro will take power until an election takes place within 30 days. He is likely to face Henrique Capriles Radomski, the Miranda state governor whom Chávez beat just months ago.

UPDATE, March 5, 3:33 PT: The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson, who first profiled Chávez in 2001 and long had great access to him, just posted an obituary. Read it.

This story has been updated.

"Owlcatraz" and 9 Other Terrible Corporate-Named Sports Venues

| Fri Feb. 22, 2013 7:01 AM EST

GEO Group, a billion-dollar private-prison firm that owns or operates 101 "correctional, detention, and residential treatment facilities" worldwide, jumped into the sports world Tuesday when it was announced that the company will pay $6 million over 12 years for naming rights to Florida Atlantic University's new football stadium. The backlash came quickly: The school's football play-by-play man suggested calling GEO Group Stadium "Owlcatraz"; a company flack was caught scrubbing the GEO Group Wikipedia page of negative press; and there's already an online petition requesting the name be changed.

This ill-conceived branding exercise got us to wondering: What are the other worst-named corporate-shilling sports venues?

1. Enron Field, Houston Astros
How bad was it to be associated with Ken Lay and Co.? As one team executive told reporters before Enron Field became Minute Maid Park, "The Houston Astros have been materially and adversely affected by the negative public perception and media scrutiny resulting from Enron's alleged bad business practices and bankruptcy." Well, that and the fact that they stopped wearing these.

2. Citi Field, New York Mets
Timing is everything, right? So don't sell the rights to your new ball field to a bank that just took $45 billion in bailouts from the federal government. (Even at $20 million a year for 20 years.) Because you're basically handing the headlines over to the New York tabloids: TARP FIELD! BAILOUT PARK!

3. University of Phoenix Stadium, Arizona Cardinals
Also enticed into forking over big money for increasingly low standards: Cardinals fans.

4. Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix Coyotes
Maybe the real problem is naming a site Jobing.com.

5. O.co Coliseum, Oakland Raiders and A's
Because Overstock.com Coliseum was too hard to say, and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was too…municipal.

6. Hunky Dorys Park, Drogheda United
Hunky Dorys is a brand of potato chips, and Hunky Dorys Park is where the Irish city of Drogheda's soccer team plays. This is sort of like naming a venue after, say, Whataburger. Wait…

7. Whataburger Field, Corpus Christi Hooks
Damn you, minor league baseball.

8 and 9. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and KFC Yum! Center, University of Louisville
Not content to have sold its football naming rights to this guy, Louisville went back to the well and named its by-all-accounts beautiful basketball arena for a company that produces the Supremo P'Zone Pizza and the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.

Thu Oct. 30, 2014 6:30 AM EDT
Wed Oct. 29, 2014 6:31 PM EDT
Fri Oct. 17, 2014 6:50 AM EDT
Mon Nov. 11, 2013 7:00 AM EST
Fri Aug. 9, 2013 6:00 AM EDT
Thu Jul. 18, 2013 3:05 AM EDT
Tue Mar. 5, 2013 6:57 PM EST
Fri Feb. 1, 2013 3:59 PM EST
Sun Dec. 23, 2012 7:11 AM EST
Thu Dec. 22, 2011 7:00 AM EST
Mon Nov. 7, 2011 6:25 PM EST
Tue Oct. 25, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Wed Oct. 19, 2011 4:43 PM EDT
Wed Aug. 24, 2011 6:00 AM EDT
Mon Aug. 1, 2011 6:17 PM EDT