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Amaechi Urges Talk About Gays In Sports

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AP
Former NBA center John Amaechi, who disclosed last week he's gay, said anti-gay comments by another retired player "demonstrate the need to continue the conversation."

Retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway said on a radio show Wednesday that he hates gay people, then later apologized for his remarks.

"I don't need Tim's comments to realize there's a problem," Amaechi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday. "People said that I should just shut up and go away _ now they have to rethink that."

Hardaway's comments were sparked by Amaechi's disclosure he's gay.

"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," Hardaway said while a guest on Sports Talk 790 The Ticket in Miami. "I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

The host asked Hardaway how he would interact with a gay teammate.

"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."

If he did find out that a teammate was gay, Hardaway said he would ask for the player to be removed from the team.

"Something has to give," Hardaway said. "If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."

Amaechi also detailed his life, in his autobiography "Man in the Middle," which was released Wednesday. He hoped his coming out would be a catalyst for intelligent discourse.

"His words pollute the atmosphere," Amaechi said. "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."

Hardaway later apologized for the remarks during a telephone interview with Fox affiliate WSVN in Miami.

"Yes, I regret it. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that," he said. "That was my mistake."

Hardaway has reportedly been removed from further league-related appearances.

"It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"Famously, they're saying in 2007 that homophobia is not an issue," Amaechi said. "While (Hardaway) is not a representative of the NBA or of straight men, there's no point pretending it's not an opinion that is out there."