Former NBA professional basketball player Tim Hardaway expressed remorse for comments he made in 2007 where he declared he was "homophobic" and hated gay people.
Hardaway, who played for the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat among other teams during a 15-year career, told Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week that the comments were the result of his religious upbringing which instilled an anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice from an early age.
"I grew up in a church, and that's the way churches were -- they instilled in you that [homosexuality] wasn't the way you should be," Hardaway told Kroichick and the Chronicle. "I was just taught differently. Don't talk to them, don't mess with them, leave them alone. I never tried to talk bad about them or do hateful stuff. It was just my upbringing in church. But I'll tell you this: It was so wrong of me, and people have suffered. I had to grow up and really do some soul-searching. What I said was just hurtful."
\u201cTim Hardaway is about to be enshrined in basketball's Hall of Fame. An interview 15 years ago, though, still hangs over his legacy. \n\n\u201cIt was so wrong of me, and people have suffered. I had to grow up and really do some soul-searching."\n\nhttps://t.co/q9ncl8nqK7\u201d
"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team," Hardaway said at the time. "Second of all, if he was on my team, I would really distance myself from him because I don't think that's right...and I don't think that he should be in the locker room while we in the locker room. It's just a whole lotta other things so I wouldn't even be a part of that. But you know, stuff like that [is] going on. And there's a lot of other people I hear [who are] like that, that's still in the closet and don't want to come out of the closet. But you know I just leave that alone."
"You know that what you're saying there, though, Timmy is flatly homophobic, right? It's just, it's bigotry," the host asked.
"Well, you know, I hate gay people," Hardaway responded at the time. "I let it be known. I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people. Yeah, I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world for that or in the United States for it. So yeah, I don't like it."
Hardaway's comments drew instant criticism from both the community and the NBA. He was also banned from appearing in an official capacity at that year's annual All-Star game.
Hardaway played on the Golden State Warriors alongside current Hall of Famers Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond. The trio was known collectively as Run-T.M.C., a play on the rap group Run-D.M.C. After six seasons he was traded to the Miami Heat, and later played for the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Indiana Pacers.
Until the 2007 interview, Hardaway had been considered an easy shoo-in to the league's Naismith Hall of Fame. Perhaps because of the comments, Hardaway was only selected as an inductee this year. He is the father of current NBA player, Tim Hardaway, Jr.