Excerpts from John Amaechi's book

Published February 8, 2007 1:17 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's hard to overestimate the stranglehold of the Latter Day Saints on the state of Utah. With the majority of the residents, the church had major say in everything from the composition of the legislature to what was considered appropriate attire. Which is why I was astonished that the city is the hippest, gayest place east of San Francisco. (Okay, so there's not a lot in between.)

Frankly, the Jazz fan base isn't all that different from that of Coffee Garden. You can't throw a basketball into a crowd without hitting a gay man or a lesbian. Dozens of season ticket holders who sat directly behind the bench were same-sex couples. I knew they were gay because they'd show up at some of my parties. (One of my guests even turned out to work for Senator Orrin Hatch.)

. . . Yet the Mormon majority seems blithely unaware of this flamboyant minority in its midst. They see same-sex couples walking down the street hand-in-hand. They drive by parts of town where every other Victorian house is festooned with rainbow flags. They see joyfully gay men pouring in and out of bars and clubs.

And at the same time, they don't see it. They're oblivious.

ON JERRY SLOAN: Jerry raged against players whom he thought didn't play hard enough, claiming they were undermining coaches across the league. If we lost two or three in a row, he would stride into practice yelling, "You f------ a------- are trying to get me fired. I'm not losing my job because you guys aren't hustling."

During one of these job-insecurity diatribes, Karl [Malone] looked at me and smirked, "If only we were so lucky." Then he went back to the posture he's long ago adopted: working diligently on his game while pretending Jerry didn't exist.

The whole "love of the game" debate was absurd. Did one of the game's most distinguished coaches honestly believe that the guys who played for him over the years would love basketball if they were not raking in the big bucks?

I knew for a fact that plenty didn't enjoy the game, because they told me so. Several of my teammates joked that they deserved their fat bank accounts, fancy cars, and mansions just to "put up with Jerry's s---."

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