Former NBA star Tim Hardaway apologizes for notorious “I hate gay people” comment

Former NBA star Tim Hardaway apologizes for notorious “I hate gay people” comment
Tim Hardaway former point guard for the Miami Heat watches the game in the Invitational Tournament on December 28, 2013 in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Shutterstock

Former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway apologized for ugly anti-gay comments he made in 2007. Hardaway proudly declared he was homophobic at the time and that gay people “shouldn’t be in the world.”

Despite Hardaway’s half-hearted attempts at damage control, the backlash was swift. Then-NBA commissioner David Stern banned Hardaway from making appearances on behalf of the team and the internet reacted with outrage.

After former player John Amaechi came out as gay, a reporter asked Hardaway if he would accept a gay player on his team.

“Well, you know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known,” Hardaway said. “I don’t like gay people. 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.”

At the time, the best he could muster was a deflection and not an apology.

“It was just a comment, that’s what it was to me. It’s over with. I don’t think about it,” he said later that year. “Let bygones be bygones. A lot of people are putting their foot in their mouths.”

“When you say something positive, they don’t write anything positive in the paper. Whatever people say now is taken out of context. Everybody is blowing stuff up. What can you do? People in the media need to start writing positive stuff.”

Now Hardaway says he’s grown beyond the homophobia engrained in his childhood and church life.

“I grew up in a church, and that’s the way churches were — they instilled in you that [homosexuality] wasn’t the way you should be,” Hardaway told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I was just taught differently. Don’t talk to them, don’t mess with them, leave them alone. I never tried to talk bad about them or do hateful stuff. It was just my upbringing in church. But I’ll tell you this: It was so wrong of me, and people have suffered. I had to grow up and really do some soul-searching. What I said was just hurtful.”

Over the years, Hardaway has proven his evolution on LGBTQ equality. When player Jason Collins came out, he showed support. He also supported same-sex marriage rights. But he still struggled to escape the cloud of his past homophobic comments.

Now, with a sincere apology, maybe he’ll find forgiveness from the queer community.

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