Unfortunately, there’s also empirical support for the notion of locker rooms as homophobe redoubts. Too many athletes, when asked about the prospect of a gay teammate, have sounded like cretinous dipshits. Just for fun, let’s hop in the TARDIS and rewind to February 2007, right after Amaechi’s announcement. What did former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway have to say about this?
You know, I hate gay people... 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.
Ah. Right. Thanks for your honesty? I guess? Sorry, Mr. Hardaway, I didn’t mean to cut you off... you have further thoughts you’d like to share?
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.
Yeeeesh. Two years after the Amaechi thing came and went, Hardaway’s comments still destabilize one’s digestive tract. Sadly, he wasn’t alone in his idiocy, as then-76ers Shavlik Randolph and Steven Hunter vocalized the following sentiments into a nearby recording device.
Randolph: As long as you don’t bring your gayness on me I’m fine. As far as business-wise, I’m sure I could play with him. [That’s very kind of you, Shav! –Ed.]
Hunter: For real? He’s gay for real? [Yes it’s FOR REAL, you doorknob –Ed.] Nowadays it’s proven that people can live double lives. I watch a lot of TV, so I see a lot of sick perverted stuff about married men running around with gay guys and all types of foolishness.
Good Lord. Any closeted athlete reading such comments must have been disheartened, though surely less surprised and taken aback than were we civilians.
The Future Is Unwritten
The good news is, the reaction of the NBA community to these remarks (especially Hardaway’s, which received the most attention) was quite what you’d hope for: distaste and disavowal. Pat Riley – president of the Miami Heat, Hardaway’s former coach and one of the sport’s mandarin elite – promptly announced that Hardaway’s views “would not be tolerated in our organization.” NBA commissioner David Stern essentially banished Hardaway from league events. The online and print communities shoveled well-deserved scorn and mockery his way.