Hardaway’s Comments Reveal Troubling Circumstances Facing Gays Playing in Sports

Unless you have been living in a box during the past week, you have heard former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway’s comments regarding homosexuals.
‘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.’
Bravo to Mr. Hardaway for making personal comments that almost no one needed to hear.
His apology was even more sentimental as he stated, ‘Yes, I regret it. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said I hate gay people or anything like that.’
Yes, Hardaway shouldn’t have said it, but he still feels that homosexuals shouldn’t be on the world. He also believes that if he had to play with a gay teammate, he would distance himself from him, and ‘wouldn’t even be a part of that.’
Of course, Hardaway’s comments came in the wake of former NBA player John Amaechi publicly coming out about his homosexuality a few weeks ago.
The bigger issue besides Hardaway’s bigotry is the fact that there are many more John Amecchis currently in the NBA as well as Tim Hardaways.
Sports are one of the last realms in which it is still unacceptable for homosexuals to come out and Amaechi’s courage, though commendable, is not likely to merit any type of emulation by other homosexuals in the sports world precisely because it takes only one Hardaway to destroy any continuity and formidable relationship between players.
Had Amaechi came out during his NBA career, there would have likely been a domino effect of other players and fans creating an environment almost unbearable to Amecchi.
The truth is NBA Commissioner David Stern rightfully banned Hardaway from the All Star festivities which took place in Las Vegas over the weekend because Hardaway’s comments do not represent those of the league.
It is difficult enough to play in a league, which along with football, is viewed as the epitome of masculinity and heterosexuality.
It’s no secret that women literally throw themselves at NBA players while they are on the road and one can only imagine the awkward situations Amaechi must have been placed in during each protracted NBA season.
Just take a look at current NBA star and forward for the Utah Jazz, Andrei Kirilenko. His wife, former Russian ‘pop star’ Masha Lopatova, allows Kirilenko to sleep with one girl for one night each year with no repercussions.
Why in the world does Lopatova grant Kirinenko such an allowance?
It is clear that Lopatova understands the situation NBA players are placed in and the circumstances that surely arise when 12 athletes go out for a night on the town during an NBA road-trip.
No one has to recall the whole Kobe Bryant saga to reiterate this point.
If anything else, Hardaway’s comments will continue to force homosexuals currently in sports to keep their sexuality private. What little hope was created by Amaechi is almost lost.
What makes Hardaway’s comments even more repulsive is that we are not talking about one of the league’s hot-headed players such as Ron Artest (fighting fans during a game) or Stephen Jackson (shooting a gun outside a strip club). Instead, we are talking about a man who led the Miami Heat to greatness during the late 1990s and has been an All-Star five times in his career.
Amaechi’s comments will begin to shed light on the issue of homosexuality in the world of sports. If Amaechi’s main accomplishment by coming out is to help current players in the NBA and other professional sports in dealing with the pressures of being a homosexual and an athlete, it would be worth the trouble.
One can only hope that Amaechi and Hardaway share a Eminem Elton John-like moment sometime in the near future because Amaechi’s coming out is easily laudable and a more applaudable act than any of the career numbers ever posted by Mr. Hardaway.