February 15, 2007

Retired NBA Star "Hates Gay People"

When former NBA player John Amaechi announced he was gay, it was only a matter of time before someone connected with pro basketball said something monumentally stupid.

Tim Hardaway, come on down!

In a radio interview, when asked what he would think of having a gay teammate, former NBA star Tim Hardaway included this in his response:

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "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."

It is hardly shocking that a former pro basketball player is homophobic, but I link that story here to bring the league's response to your attention.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, upon learning of the remarks Wednesday, removed Hardaway from subsequent league-related appearances. "It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," Stern said in a statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Hardaway has been taking part in NBA festivities ahead of Sunday's All-Star Game in Las Vegas and attended an NBA Cares outreach event at a city YMCA with Knicks forward Jerome Williams on Tuesday.

Amaechi responded:

"I will say this about the Tim Hardaway comments and the comments of people like him ... these are the loud comments that pollute the air," Amaechi said. "These are the comments that create the atmosphere that allow some of the tragic incidents of homophobia that we've seen. This is what makes the lives of gay and lesbian young people in schools miserable. It's what stops gay and lesbian people in the workplace from coming out as well as the fact they can be fined in 33 states for being gay. These are part of the problem."

Interestingly, there was quite a bit of discussion on sports talk radio today about homosexuality. While most of the hosts I heard were waaaaaay out of their depth, they were nonetheless making a sincere effort to be understanding and accepting while working over Tim Hardaway for his hateful comments.

This is progress, folks. Before we get too giddy, though, reviewing some of the comments posted on the ESPN story I linked illustrate that there is a long way to go. At least people in the final frontier for GLBT acceptance, men's sports, are talking about it.

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