The West Fourth Street basketball courts in Greenwich Village, known far and wide as the Cage, draw some of the toughest and best streetball players from across the city. And on Tuesday, as the sporting world absorbed the news that the journeymen N.B.A. center Jason Collins had come out as gay, the denizens of the Cage said, by and large, that it made no difference to them.
âHis personal life is his own,â said a 60-year-old man who goes by the name Coach and has been playing and coaching at West Fourth Street for 30 years. âNobody can tell me who in the morning Iâm going to get up and smell their breath. Weâve raised gay people here. No jokes, no discrimination. Iâll critique your game but not your personal life.â
Across the East River at the Rodney Park North courts on the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the reaction was much the same.
Here are some voices from the two courts:
From the Cage:
âThere are a lot of gay players here but the only ones who admit it are the girls. But, still, today is better than yesterday for them.â – Vince, a coach and player from Jersey City in his 50s.
âItâs a great start, but they need a bigger star whoâs more relevant to come out to really make a difference.â â” Michael Watson, 23, who lives in Manhattan and works in a nightclub.
âIâd still play with him. I wouldnât shower with him, though.â â” Joseph Washington, 24, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
âI just finished playing with a gay guy here. It doesnât change anything. Heâs not changing the United States anyway, because everybody is going to have different views.â â” Stephen Williams, 22, of the Bronx.
âHeâs his own person. You got to be true to yourself sometimes. If heâs O.K. with it, everyone else should be,â â” Shariff Webb, 21, of Queens.
From the Rodney Park courts in Williamsburg:
âItâs just something heâs had throughout his childhood, I donât see nothing wrong with that. This is what Hollywood, the media, celebrities, does. But really itâs no big deal.â â” Wady Capellan, 19.
âAs long as he respects boundaries, it shouldnât affect the basketball court.â â” Bill Baez, 19.
âThis is the South Side. We see gay people walking around all the time. Itâs normal. If youâre gay, youâre gay.â â” Ruder Perez, 17.