Former NBA star Tim Hardaway says he wants a "second chance" to revamp his reputation after his hate-filled remarks about gay ex-player John Amaechi, the Miami Herald reported.
"People have been trying to kick me when I'm down," he told The Miami Herald. The reaction was "very, very shocking. People saying my wife left me -- that's not true. My family is OK and my finances are OK.
"... I'm looking for a second chance and trying to clean up my image. I haven't been in trouble with drugs or guns. I'm an upstanding citizen. Like I told my children, life is not easy. This is a big bump I have to overcome. I'm going to deal with it like a champ. I've got to make sure people know I don't hate gay people."
Hardaway also told the newspaper that he is planning to to meet with a gay rights organization to explain his comments. He also said he has not spoken with Amaechi.
"I wasn't interested in what he had to say about [my comments]. I'm not interested in trying to sell his book," Hardaway told the newspaper.
Hardaway apologized again Feb. 18 for his anti-gay remarks, telling a Miami television station that he “didn’t mean” to say what he said in a South Florida radio interview last week.
Hardaway, in an interview at his home with CBS affiliate WFOR, acknowledged he made a major mistake by saying “I hate gay people” when asked how he would react to having a gay teammate.
“I don’t hate gay people,” Hardaway said. “I’m a goodhearted person. I interact with people all the time. ... I respect people. For me to say ‘hate’ was a bad word, and I didn’t mean to use it.”
Hardaway made the anti-gay comments Wednesday, a week after Amaechi became the first former NBA player to reveal his homosexuality. Hardaway said he didn’t believe gay players should share a locker room with heterosexual players, then added, “I don’t like gay people, and I don’t like to be around gay people.”
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On Sunday, he acknowledged “that was very bad.”
His remarks quickly drew criticism from both the NBA and several gay and lesbian groups, and Hardaway said the firestorm surprised him.
“It was like, you know, I had killed somebody. ... I never knew that this was going to escalate that high,” Hardaway said.
Hardaway was banished from some NBA-sanctioned appearances he was scheduled to make in Las Vegas as part of the All-Star weekend. He also lost at least one of his endorsement deals, and he ordered his name dropped from advertising at a car wash he owns in Miami, saying he made that decision to ensure the safety of his employees.
Hardaway played parts of 13 NBA seasons with Golden State, Miami, Dallas, Denver and Indiana, and played in five All-Star games.
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