Former NBA pro basketball player Tim Hardaway expressed regret for his comments in 2007 that he was “homophobic” and hated gay people.
Hardaway, who played for the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat during a 15-year career, told Ron Kroichick about it Chronicle of San Francisco Earlier this week that the comments were the result of his religious upbringing, which instilled in him anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice from an early age.
“I grew up in a church, and that’s what churches were like — they drummed that into you [homosexuality] wasn’t what you’re supposed to be,” Hardaway told Kroichick and the timeline. “I was just taught differently. Don’t talk to them, don’t mess with them, leave them alone. I never tried to badmouth her or do hateful things. It was just my upbringing in the church. But I’ll tell you one thing: it was so wrong of me, and people suffered. I had to grow up and really do some soul searching. What I said was just hurtful.”
Hardaway, meanwhile, made the original homophobic comments an interview from 2007 on The Dan Le Batard Show in response to a question about how he would handle having a gay player as a teammate.
“First of all, I wouldn’t want him on my team,” Hardaway said at the time. “Secondly, if he were on my team I would really distance myself from him because I don’t think that’s right… and I don’t think he should be in the dressing room while we’re in the dressing room. It’s just a whole bunch of other things, so I wouldn’t even be a part of it. But you know, stuff like that [is] Come on. And there are many other people that I hear [who are] it’s still in the closet and doesn’t want to get out. But you know I just don’t.”
“You do know what you’re saying Timmy is totally homophobic though, don’t you? It’s just bigotry,” the host asked.
“Well, you know, I hate gays,” Hardaway replied at the time. “I announced it. I don’t like gays. I don’t like being with gay people. Yes I am homophobic. I do not like it. It shouldn’t be in the world for that, and it shouldn’t be in the United States either. So yeah, I don’t like it.”
Hardaway’s comments drew immediate criticism from both the community and the NBA. He was also banned from appearing in an official capacity at that year’s All-Star Game.
Hardaway played for the Golden State Warriors alongside current Hall of Famers Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond. The trio was collectively known as Run-TMC, a track about the rap group Run-DMC. After six seasons he was traded to the Miami Heat and later played for the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers.
Up until the 2007 interview, Hardaway was considered an easy inductor into the league’s Naismith Hall of Fame. Perhaps because of the comments, Hardaway was only selected as a recruit this year. He is the father of current NBA player Tim Hardaway, Jr.