Homophobia Not Shocking, But Hate Hits Low Point
By JASON WHITLOCK
At first, Tim Hardaway's stupidity provoked a chuckle. He couldn't be serious. Not in these politically correct times. His remarks on Dan LeBatard's radio show in Miami had to be some sort of elaborate skit to promote John Amaechi's book.
Asked to comment on the former NBA role player's decision to announce that he's gay,
Hardaway decided to be John Rocker honest.
"If he was on my team," Hardaway said, speaking of Amaechi, "I would, you know, really
distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that's right. And you know I don't think he should be in the locker room while we're in the locker room. I wouldn't even be a part of that."
That was just Hardaway's warm-up shot. With LeBatard trying to press the brakes on Hardaway's intolerance, Hardaway executed a backdoor cut and slammed home his ignorance.
"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," added Hardaway, a retired NBA all-star. "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."
Thirty minutes after the interview, Hardaway began his backpedal, offering an apology on a Miami TV station. Too late. The controversy was already in the process of blowing up nationally. NBA commissioner David Stern promptly removed Hardaway from all NBA All-Star Weekend activity in Las Vegas.
And LeBatard was on the horn with Amaechi getting his reaction to Hardaway's comments for a column in Thursday's Miami Herald.
"Finally, someone who is honest," Amaechi told LeBatard. "It is ridiculous, absurb, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far."
Yep, Hardaway scored points for honesty and stupidity. While perfectly illustrating the kind of hostility an active, out-of-the-closet athlete would face inside a locker room, Hardaway dealt the league that made him rich a black eye and a controversy that could take some of the shine off the NBA's Vegas holiday.
Rather than spend the weekend talking about gambling, stripclubs, escorts and tattoos, Stern's all-stars will be forced to answer another round of questions about sexuality. Trust me, athletes are far more qualified to pontificate about the former than the latter.
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Ex-NBA Star Says He Hates 'Gay People'Yanks' Rivera Will Consider Other TeamsDuke Snaps Four-Game Losing SkidMore than anything, that's what Amaechi's book release has made clear. We shouldn't ask pro athletes important questions. They've been raised in locker rooms, laboratories for intolerance and ignorance, and had their beliefs fortified by large sums of money and groupies/posse members.
Athletes are not paid to be thoughtful or articulate. They're paid to follow instructions implicitly. They're paid to adhere to a macho code that certainly views gay men as weak.
Should we be surprised that LeBron James and all the other 20-something millionaires flunked Amaechi's Brokeback test and offered less-than-enlightened opinions about homosexuality?
No. And maybe we should be even less surprised that the 40-year-old Hardaway thought it was appropriate to put his homophobia on record.
Money and privilege seem to erode a man's ability to empathize. Once you make it financially in this society, the natural inclination is to forget how and why you made it.
Hardaway's implied reluctance to share a locker room and shower with a gay teammate is
somewhat understandable. Most heterosexual men feel the same way. Homophobia is a not a
crime. Letting it control your behavior is wrong.
It is Hardaway's expression of hate and the implication he would allow his homophobia to prevent a gay man from working in peace that troubles me.
Hardaway is too stupid to realize that racism and hate denied black people inalienable, American rights for hundreds of years. People with Tim Hardaway's mindset tried to keep people who look like Tim Hardaway out of professional sports and every other highly sought profession.
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