Former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway hates gay people ... no ... I mean he really, really hates gay people. And he's dumb enough to say so to a sports talk radio host ... who's also a freaking reporter
The comments came as Hardaway appeared on Dan LeBatard's Miami talk show, as he was being asked about former NBA star Don Amaechi's revelation that he is gay. Hardaway said that not only is he homophobic, he wouldn't want a gay person on his team ... oh, read it for yourself
``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.''
As for a gay player like Amaechi sharing the close confines of the locker room with Timmy:
''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.''
As for Amaechi, he says:
''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.''
After the interview, Hardaway expanded on the comments with CBS 4 reporter Jim Berry, telling him that if he found out a family member was gay, he would have nothing to do with them.
Writing about the exchange he instigated with Hardaway (one of only a handful of NBA stars who ignored their publicists' advice and answered questions about Amaeichi's coming out in a new book, "Man in the Middle," Lebatard describes the comments as hurtful and homophobic, but "honest." They were also stupid for a public figure.
But ... and this is the big "but..."
Keeping it real ... most straight men feel exactly the same way, and would have the exact same reaction to the idea of stripping naked in a sweaty locker room in close quarters with a gay teammate. Most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing. Most straight people cringed at the Snickers commercial. Most straight people had a hard time being convinced to watch "Broke Back Mountain." (I admit that I couldn't go see the movie either, despite my sister's ringing endorsement, because I didn't want to watch the two male characters having sex.)
Does that make me homophobic? Probably. And I'm not exactly proud of it. But part of the intrinsic nature of "straightness" is that the idea of homosexual sex is ... well... gross
... even if you think that gay people are perfectly lovely individuals. For the record, I'm sure gay people think straight sex is gross, too, it's just that the nature of political correctness is that gay people are allowed
to say straight sex is gross, but the reverse is considered to be patently homophobic.
So was Tim Hardaway wrong to say what he said? Yes and no. On the one hand, in a free society, he has the right
to feel and say exactly what he wants. On the other hand, he's a grown man and will have to suffer the consequences. He probably sunk his prospects of ever becoming an anchor on ESPN, and he has already begun to suffer career consequences, including being bounced from All Star Weekend
. In the current age, you never, ever say blatantly bigoted things out loud, on the air, to a reporter (or if you're Isaiah Washington, you don't say them on the set...) ... unless of course, you're Rush Limbaugh
... As one gay leader in South Florida put it:
"'It is a very simple process to say `no' or 'I'd rather not comment' than to go on the record and make malicious and bigoted statements,'' (president of the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Steve) Adkins said.
``. . . Let's just say I'm very disappointed that if someone in this day and age has these kinds of feelings, they're not intelligent enough to keep them to themselves. Beyond that, there is no place in our society for that kind of hatred and bigotry. End of story.''
Further, as an African-American, you're actually held to an even higher tolerance standard, which may or may not be fair. But as LeBatard himself noted, what Hardaway said probably met with quiet, embarrassed agreement on some level by many other players, who are now looking to their left and right, and perhaps quietly, and uneasily, wondering if the guy showering next to them is sneaking a peek at their naughty bits.
It's not pretty, but it's for real.
Labels: gays, media, NBA, Tim Hardaway