Apparently (it's WAY down in this ESPN story) Hardaway apologized later for saying the following on a Miami talk show (HT: Dale):
"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."Apology aside ... what a maroon. Actually, let's wallow a bit in this statement.
"First of all, I wouldn't want [a gay player] on my team.
"And second of all, if he was on my team, 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 not a slipped word like the St. Louis radio host who used "coon" in reference to Condoleezza Rice. Nor was it a disputable construction that gay groups are trying to get classified as a Thought Crime like "I hate the gay lifestyle." Nor does he have the Mel Gibson "the-Jews-made-me-get-drunk" excuse. That was a considered thought, articulately stated, using complete sentences and numbered points, and even includes a defiant flourish.
I don't expect athletes to be moral philosophers, but the distinction between the person and the act is pretty basic and hardly requires the ability to read Heidegger in German. (It's Jesus 101, for one thing.) But along with Dale Price, I predict Hardaway will be joining Isaiah Washington, Gavin Newsom, Mark Foley, and others using "rehab" as an excuse for a public moment of foot-in-mouth disease or sexual sin. The gay groups want their pound of flesh, and in this case, it'd be justified.
I saw last week on ESPN, the reaction from LeBron James to John Amaechi, the NBA ex-player who "came out." And I think he said the right thing, at least from the perspective of one co-worker to another: something to the effect of "That's his business. I'd have more problem with a guy who felt he had to hide it from me. As if we're not really teammates. You have to have trust."
All that said -- I do think ex-athletes like Amaechi publicly "coming out" is foolish (the reaction proves that today he'd have little to fear), and all the thanks and praise heaped upon Amaechi, as though he'd performed the Seven Labors of Hercules was silly. And ESPN should rename itself ESPCN for its coverage of the Amaechi non-event.