Sunday, February 18, 2007

Homophobia and the NBA

The NBA came into full bloom this past week (or is that came out). The quotes from Tim Hardaway, John Amaechi, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, and David Stern, in that order:

"First of all, I wouldn't want him 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 is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room."

When show host Dan Le Batard told Hardaway those comments were "flatly homophobic" and "bigotry," the player continued.

"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," he said. "I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

Hardaway apologized but was removed from any NBA-related activities for this weekend's All-Star game.

"I'm actually tempted to laugh. Finally, someone who is honest. It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far.... His words pollute the atmosphere. It creates an atmosphere that allows young gays and lesbians to be harassed in school, creates an atmosphere where in 33 states you can lose your job, and where anti-gay and lesbian issues are used for political gain. It's an atmosphere that hurts all of us, not just gay people."

Amaechi is an impressive man. (I might have said 'articulate' if this had happened a few weeks ago.) Barkley:

"You don't think we've all played with gay guys? Of course we have. It has never been an issue. America, the more I live in it, the more I realize how full of it we are. If we're not bombing the wrong country, we're not fixing hurricane-relief areas. America is homophobic. It's so easy for (reporters) to say the other jocks won't like it."


"If he was on my team, I guess I would have to protect him from the outsiders."

And finally Commissioner Stern:

"This is an issue overall that has fascinated America. It’s not an NBA issue," Stern said, pointing to the ongoing debate over gay marriage at the state and federal levels. "This is a country that needs to talk about this issue. And, not surprisingly, they use sports as a catalyst to begin the dialogue."

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