Hardaway, Amaechi and Homosexuality

The big news throughout the land this week has been made by former National Basketball Association star Tim Hardaway, whose instant notoriety eclipsed the total notoriety of his 14 years in the NBA as a stellar performer for five teams. Hardaway stated on a radio broadcast in Miami, where he once played for the Miami Heat, that he hated homosexuals and that he is a homophobe. Homophobia is defined as “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.” Another former NBA player, John Amaechi, has recently published a book in which he “came out,” and this triggered the episode. There have been a handful of homosexuals in professional sports but none has ever “come out” publicly until after retiring.

Predictably, Hardaway later apologized for what he said, but, of course, the apology meant nothing. Hardaway went so far as to say that a homosexual shouldn’t be in the locker-room when “other” players are there. There’s no excuse for an expression of hate to be made…at least publicly, though Hardaway probably is not alone in his feeling. Other players have made derogatory statements about playing with homosexuals, but without expressing hate for them…at least publicly. Most athletes probably don’t hate the homosexual, but they hate homosexual behavior, which, notwithstanding all the political-correctness manifestations to the contrary, is aberrant and abhorrent, quite foreign to what’s universally considered normal.

Being in close association with homosexuals bothers most men, whether they’re athletes or practitioners of any other employment, despite what they might say. Homosexuals are routinely discharged from the military when their lifestyle is discovered. On a naval vessel, sailors are confined to very cramped quarters, actually sleeping in tiers of four or five “racks,” with these beds/tiers within arms-reach of each other. It is not unknown for homosexuals to be attacked just because of what they are, so the discharge, besides removing a distraction or derogation of comradeship, is a safety measure for the homosexual. According to the U.S. Dept. of Defense, 653 homosexuals were discharged in 2004, down from 1,227 in 2001. In a recent appearance on NBC-TV’s Meet the Press, presidential candidate John Edwards, who has never been in the military, vowed that homosexuals will be tolerated in the military if he gains the Oval Office.

Lewd conduct is defined as that which is “sexually unchaste or licentious: OBSCENE, VULGAR.” Such conduct permeates the society by both men and women, but is particularly noted when attached to high-profile sports. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, retired from a 12-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 because he had sustained an HIV infection. He admitted to a prolific promiscuity – at least before his marriage – and probably has no idea where he was infected or as to how many others he infected. Lewdness!

Fourteen-year veteran (1959-73) Wilt Chamberlain, among the greatest players ever to play the game, bragged that he had probably had sex with 20,000 women. Lewdness! Kobe Bryant, a married father and current star with the Los Angeles Lakers, was accused of rape in 2003 and admitted to having consensual sex with a woman not his wife. Lewdness! The NBA is not devoid of lewdness. Neither are the other professional sports leagues. The average salary in the NBA is more than $5 million per year, so the athletes have the wherewithal and perhaps the consequent attitude to do most anything they like.

The NBA brass has been quick to distance itself from Hardaway, even though he’s no longer in the game. He was already in Las Vegas, where he was to make public appearances in connection with All-Star Weekend, but NBA Commissioner David Stern deep-sixed his participation, claiming a disparity between Hardaway’s views and the league’s. Quite an understatement!

Dan Le Batard of the McClatchy Newspaper consortium claimed that Amaechi is the smartest athlete he’s ever met, “uniquely qualified to be an eloquent spokesman for his cause,” but that he is terrified and exhausted while fighting it [hatred] during his book tour, partly because hatred is scary, heavy and unpredictable. One wonders, though, why homosexuals feel compelled to “tell the world.” Actually, who cares?

Hardaway should have kept his opinion to himself, but in any gathering of men worse remarks than his are normal with respect to homosexuals and/or their behavior. Surely knowing this, why would Amaechi publish a book to “out” himself and possibly bring embarrassment to his family? He surely doesn’t consider himself as a mover and shaker of national or international importance or reputation (5 years in the NBA), so his motive could be construed to be the “outing” or, as some might say, the “flaunting” of behavior universally categorized as abhorrent and totally unacceptable.

Hardaway was wrong, even though he was truthful, and it’s a wonder that some politically correct group or other is not demanding criminal charges based on verbal assault, maybe categorized as a “hate crime.” Amaechi, for whatever reason (money, perhaps?), in flaunting what he knows is an unsavory lifestyle – at least to the vast majority – did neither himself nor his cause (whatever that is) any favors. Both are role models of a sort to young men, but one wonders who did the most damage.