Tim Hardaway has the resume of a Hall of Fame basketball player, but he says homophobic comments he made back in 2007 are keeping him from being inducted.
In a wide-ranging interview with Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, the five-time All-NBA guard for the Warriors and Heat discussed being on the ballot for the Naismith Hall of Fame for the fifth time and explained why he still hasn't been granted access to the exclusive club.
Well, you know, the reason I'm not in is because of what I said in 2007 about gay people. That's why I'm not in right now, and I understand it. I hurt a lot of people's feelings and it came off the wrong way and it was really bad of me to say that. Since then, I've turned a wrong into a right. My parents used to always tell me, "If you do something wrong, look it in the eye. Don't back down from it and be scared of it. Go make it right and make people understand that you made a mistake." And that's what I did. I'm trying to do what's right, supporting gay people and transgender people. I want people to understand [what they go through] and understand them as people. They shouldn't be seen as "other" people. You shouldn't call them [derogatory names] or look at them all ugly. Those are people too. They should get to live their lives just like we live our lives and that means having freedom and having fun. They should get to enjoy their life the way they’re supposed to enjoy life… I’ve talked to people from the LGBTQ community [and I tell them], "You're supposed to have the same rights that we have and supposed to be able to do everything that we do. You shouldn’t be outcast."
Life is too short to be out here hating one another and trying to hurt one another. I understand that. But, yeah, that's the only reason why I'm not in [the Hall of Fame] and I understand that. There's nothing I can do about it. You got to take your bumps and bruises, and that's what I've been doing. I just try to be positive. It hurts. But, hey, I understand the ramifications of [what I said]. I understand why I'm not in. All I can do is keep living. My parents also always told me, "You can't control what you can't control."
During a radio interview with Dan Le Batard in 2007, Hardaway was asked about former NBA center John Amaechi who had recently come out as gay. Hardaway responded with a homophobic rant that got him banned from the NBA All-Star festivities that year.
"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people and 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."
Hardaway apologized for his comments and has since worked toward becoming a better ally for the LGBTQ community, as detailed in this story in The Washington Post by Tim Bontemps.
In his 13-year career, Hardaway averaged 17.7 points and 8.2 assists while earning five All-Star nods.
Hardaway was not selected as a finalist for the 2019 Hall of Fame class despite being on the ballot of eligible candidates. The 2019 Naismith Hall of Fame class will be announced during. the men's Final Four in Minneapolis in early April.