Tim Hardaway appeared on the Dan Le Batard show yesterday. When asked about playing with a gay teammate, Tim said bluntly, "I hate gay people."
Tim was more than candid in stating in that he would not want to play with a gay teammate and whether that teammate was a superstar like Dwyane Wade or a scrub like John Amaechi, "something would have to give."
Ironically, Hardaway deserves some respect for his honesty. He was not "spinning" like Lebron James or Shavlik Randolph. He said what he felt, right or wrong, if any of us are equipped to judge. Do you think all of the guys leading prayer circles in sports love homosexuals? The born again Christians? Even the Negro du jour, Tony Dungy?
And you know a lot of people agree with Hardaway. Johm Amaechi is receiving death threats, but you know a lot of people are going to privately have Hardaway's back. People say a lot of things in columns or cocktail parties, but when it comes down to it, they basically agree with Hardaway.
Actually, the "I hate gay people" statement came at the very end of the interview. Prior to that, Hardaway was discussing a gay teammate as an unwelcome distraction that everyone else would have to "worry" about. And that's an interesting point. Locker room distractions are supposedly the lowest of the low. Should an exception be made for a teammate outing himself? Is having to answer endless questions about your gay teammate more noble than having to answer endless questions about T.O.'s latest outburst? About Tiki Barber's latest outburst? About Michael Strahan's latest outburst? About Chad Johnson's latest outburst? About Joey Porter's latest outburst....
If a locker room would have to potentially tolerate an "out" athlete like John Amaechi or Billy Bean or Esera Tualo, should efforts be made to tolerate the teammate on the opposite end of the scale, a homophobe like Tim Hardaway. After all, isn't tolerance for everybody?
Update: Tim doesn't back off. He explains himself to a Flordia TV station. And, surprise, John Amaechi (whose name was not mentioned at all in Hardaway's interview) has scheduled another media appearance on Mike & Mike at 7:20 a.m. You gotta start early to get yourself in the news cycle for the day.
Update: Check out LZ Granderson's article about why chances of getting raped in the shower by a gay teammate are slim to none. More like none.
Update: Tim tells another Florida station that he's sorry for saying that he hates gay people.
Update: Dan Le Batard calls Hardaway honest, but ignorant.