Former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway has expressed regret for his controversial homophobic remarks from 2007. He cited his religious upbringing as being partly responsible for his caustic comments.
Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Hardaway by phone, and the former standout guard explained the reasoning behind his ugly statements that were made on a Miami radio station.
“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 said. “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.”
Hardaway’s 2007 comments came during an appearance on Dan Le Batard’s radio program in February 2007. The retired basketball star was asked how he would react to a gay teammate.
“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.”
Le Batard’s question was asked due to former NBA player John Amaechi declaring that he was gay.
The backlash against Hardaway’s comments developed immediately, with then-NBA commissioner David Stern banning him from making appearances on behalf of the league at that year’s All-Star Game.
Hardaway did make attempts at doing damage control by showing public support for topics like gay marriage and domestic partner benefits. In addition, he showed support for the NBA’s first openly gay player, Jason Collins.
Despite those efforts, Hardaway has struggled to shake the nasty image that he cultivated years ago as a result of his words.
Hall of Fame Issues
Prior to Hardaway’s comments, he seemed to be in a position to be quickly inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. During his 13 years in the NBA, he played for five different teams, including the Heat from 1996 to 2001.
In his career, Hardaway averaged 17.7 points, 8.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Despite those numbers, he remained on the outside looking in when it came to Hall of Fame recognition, with no indication if he’d ever be elected.
That finally changed in April when Hardaway was officially elected to be a part of the Hall of Fame class of 2022.
Given his willingness to speak out now on his controversial past, Hardaway may use his induction speech to offer a broader apology for his ill-advised comments from 15 years ago.
Doing so may finally wipe away some of the scar left behind.