Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman believes his club’s culture has grown following centre Isaac Humphries’ announcement on Wednesday that he is gay.
The 24-year-old made global headlines when he told his teammates, and the world, that he was gay, making him the first openly gay Australian male professional basketballer.
He is also the only gay male basketballer to be playing in a top-tier league anywhere in the world, and Vickerman said it was “an emotional week” for Melbourne.
“We felt like our culture as a club grew in the diversity and acceptance of everybody and Isaac in what he went through and the courage he had to do that,” Vickerman said after United’s 91-86 loss to Adelaide.
Adelaide coach CJ Bruton, who coached Humphries during his time with the 36ers, was rapt for his former pupil.
“We love Isaac. Isaac played for us, he’s part of our family, he’s part of the NBL family and Melbourne United,” Bruton said.
“Currently, he’s a United guy, but him coming out, we’re proud of him. I’m happy for him taking control of his life.
“I thought his time with me, I thought our organisation did an amazing great job embracing him and helping him (when) he went through a lot of injuries.
“As a coach, I love him, I can’t say enough about Isaac and (I’m) happy that he’s happy.”
As for the serendipity of Humphries playing against his old team in his first game as an openly gay player: “Him announcing it the way it happened … and then we’re coming here, it laid out the way it was supposed to lay out and we’re all here talking about it and it’s amazing for him,” Bruton said.
United forward Mason Peatling described Humphries’ announcement as “really brave”.
“It was a really amazing thing just to be in the room and be a very, very, very, very small part of that,” Peatling said.
“We’ll embrace him and hopefully one day no one will really care what happens because for me nothing’s going to change, we treat Isaac just the same and he’s part of our club.
“(I’m) looking forward to what comes as a result of it.”
Adelaide star Robert Franks believes Humphries’ announcement will help other players struggling with their sexuality to have the confidence to “get that monkey off the back”.