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 John 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."
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.