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Ex-Heat star Hardaway makes anti-gay comments on radio
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By MICHELLE KAUFMAN
The Miami Herald
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway, known for his candor, said on a radio show Wednesday that he would not want a gay player on his team, would ask for him to be traded, and went so far as to say: "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
Hardaway was a guest with host/Herald columnist Dan Le Batard on Sports Talk 790 The Ticket, and at the end of the interview, Le Batard asked Hardaway how he would deal with a gay player, in light of last week's disclosure by retired NBA center John Amaechi that he is gay.
"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team," Hardaway replied. "And second of all, if he was on my team, I would really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room. But stuff like that is going on and there's a lot of other people I hear that are like that and still in the closet and don't want to come out of the closet, but you know I just leave that alone."
Asked what he would do if he had a gay teammate, Hardaway said he would ask for the player to be traded or to be bought out of his contract.
"Something has to give," he said. "And I think the majority of players would ask for him to be traded or they would want to be traded. Or buy him out of his contract and just let him go. Something has to give. If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that are upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."
Hardaway is the first NBA player — current or former — to make anti-gay statements since Amaechi's news came out. In fact, most of the players and coaches quoted last week, including Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, were supportive of Amaechi and said they would not be bothered by a gay teammate.
What if the gay player were a great player, Hardaway was asked.
"If he were that great something would still have to give," he said. "People would feel uncomfortable with that. If you're not gay, nobody in that locker room would feel comfortable with that person on your team."
Amaechi probably will not be surprised when he reads Hardaway's comments. He said in a phone interview Tuesday he believes there is still a lot of homophobia in society and in professional sports locker rooms.
"We are much further behind than I'd like," Amaechi said. "People in America and England [where Amaechi grew up] would like to think racism is over, sexism is over, and homophobia is over, but it's not. My coming out will show that gay people don't all look like Jack from Will and Grace. Some of us are big, athletic men, and that should be OK."
Amaechi said he had not heard from a single former teammate or NBA player, that he had only heard from former coach Doc Rivers. He challenged straight athletes "who feel able" to stand up for gay rights.
"I would like professional male athletes to be active supporters, and that doesn't mean putting a rainbow decal on their car," he said. "It means letting other guys in the locker room know that it's not OK to make gay jokes, that it's hurtful, and that it's not OK to be homophobic.
"But it's hard to get straight guys to step up. When men stood by women during the suffrage movement, they were called progressive and bold. When whites stood by blacks, they were heroes. But a straight guy standing up for a gay guy faces discrimination, and that's a big part of the battle we're fighting."