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Hardaway banished
from all-star weekend for antigay tirade

Hardaway banished
from all-star weekend for antigay tirade

The NBA banished Tim Hardaway from All-Star weekend in Las Vegas because of his antigay remarks. Hardaway, who played in five All-Star games during the 1990s, was already in Las Vegas to make a series of public appearances this week on behalf of the league. But after saying ''I hate gay people'' during a radio interview, commissioner David Stern stepped in. ''We removed him from representing us because we didn't think his comments were consistent with having anything to do with us,'' Stern told reporters Thursday at the opening of a fan festival at a Las Vegas casino, part of the NBA's All-Star weekend. Stern said he had not spoken with Hardaway, who left Las Vegas on Thursday, but he planned to do so. While Stern said a discussion about openly gay players could be part of future rookie orientation programs, he doesn't see a need to address the league. ''This is an issue overall that has fascinated America. It's not an NBA issue,'' Stern said, pointing to the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage at the state and federal levels. ''This is a country that needs to talk about this issue,'' he said. ''And, not surprisingly, they use sports as a catalyst to begin the dialogue.'' Hardaway apologized for his comments, which came a week after John Amaechi became the first former NBA player to say he was gay. ''As an African-American, I know all too well the negative thoughts and feelings hatred and bigotry cause,'' Hardaway said Thursday in a statement issued by his agent. ''I regret and apologize for the statements that I made that have certainly caused the same kinds of feelings and reactions. ''I especially apologize to my fans, friends, and family in Miami and Chicago. I am committed to examining my feelings and will recognize, appreciate, and respect the differences among people in our society,'' he said. ''I regret any embarrassment I have caused the league on the eve of one of their greatest annual events.'' The NBA brings in many former players to take part in various All-Star events. Hardaway had already represented the league in Las Vegas earlier this week at a Habitat for Humanity event and a fitness promotion. The former U.S. Olympian was also scheduled to be an assistant coach at a wheelchair game Thursday night and later appear at the fan-oriented Jam Session until Stern told him he was no longer welcome. ''His views are not consistent with ours,'' Stern said. (Melissa Murphy, AP)

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