Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Hardaway: 'I don't hate gay people'
ESPN.com news services
Former NBA star Tim Hardaway wants a second chance to repair his image.
In a February interview with a Miami radio station, Hardaway said he didn't believe gay players should share a locker room with heterosexual players, then added, "I don't like gay people, and I don't like to be around gay people."
Hardaway was reacting to the news of John Amaechi's announcement being the first former NBA player to reveal he was a gay man.
Hardaway apologized soon after making the comments and said Tuesday he wants to make sure people know that he really doesn't hate gay people.
"People have been trying to kick me when I'm down," he told The Miami Herald. The reaction was "very, very shocking. People saying my wife left me -- that's not true. My family is OK and my finances are OK.
"... I'm looking for a second chance and trying to clean up my image. I haven't been in trouble with drugs or guns. I'm an upstanding citizen. Like I told my children, life is not easy. This is a big bump I have to overcome. I'm going to deal with it like a champ. I've got to make sure people know I don't hate gay people."
Hardaway told the Herald that he hasn't spoken to Amaechi after making homophobic remarks.
"I wasn't interested in what he had to say about [my comments]. I'm not interested in trying to sell his book," Hardaway told the newspaper.
However, Hardaway told the Herald that he plans to meet with a gay organization to explain why he said what he said and to try to understand homosexuals' perspective.
Hardaway was banished from some NBA-sanctioned appearances he was scheduled to make in Las Vegas as part of the All-Star weekend. He also lost at least one of his endorsement deals, and he ordered his name dropped from advertising at a car wash he owns in Miami, saying he made that decision to ensure the safety of his employees.
Hardaway told the newspaper that he met with NBA commissioner David Stern recently and came out of the meeting hopeful he'll be able to one day return to the NBA in some capacity. Stern declined to comment on the meeting, when asked by The Herald.
Heat coach Pat Riley said Tuesday night that he believes Hardaway will be forgiven one day and that his number will be retired by the Heat someday.
"I do think that we are a country and a city that forgives," Riley said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
"This is a big bump I have to overcome. I'm going to deal with it like a champ. I've got to make sure people know I don't hate gay people."
-- Tim Hardaway