If there’s one thing you can’t call Karl Malone, the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer, it’s a hippy-dippy, MSNBC-loving, softball-playing liberal (though do us a favor — don’t call anyone that). The man grew up in rural Louisiana, served on the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association, donated to the re-election campaign of George W. Bush, and has long been perceived as a good ol’ boy who certainly doesn’t want anything shoved up his butt.
And, in the interest of honesty, politically and socially conservative people are usually not cool with homosexuality, for whatever reason. That’s what makes Malone’s showing of support for Jason Collins so heart-warming.
Here are a few of the things he said on the “Bucher & Towney” radio show in the Bay Area:
“Let’s just cut through the skinny … I’m proud of the young man… Isn’t it about time that we stopped wasting so much time on what a person prefers?”
“I played with a teammate, John Amaechi, who was gay. He didn’t just wake up and say, ‘I’m gay today.’ He was gay then. Did I ever once feel uncomfortable? [Note: The answer is likely yes.] Do I feel uncomfortable right now with a gay person in the room? No. I might even joke with them about it … I would undress in front of them now. I’m not afraid.”
He had similar sentiments when he appeared on CNN on Tuesday:
“It’s time that we kind of move past that kind of thing… You know, it’s not for us to say because what’s in the Bible that this shouldn’t do this. We’re not the judge. You know, the Almighty is the judge, whoever that is to you, it don’t matter.”
“It’s not an epidemic that if we touch a gay person, we’re going to kick over and die. That’s your opinion and this is my opinion. And I’ll tell you like this, I’m Karl Malone and I approve this message.”
Malone’s support of Collins in noteworthy not just for his background: He was once the center of controversy back in the early ’90s when he voiced concern over touching Magic Johnson for fear of contracting the HIV virus. Malone has since expressed regret over those words, saying he lacked information on it at the time. It’s great to see someone’s views evolve over time, and be proud of that evolution. That’s not the same as flip-flopping, by the way.
Photo via Getty