Tim Hardaway supports gay marriage petition in Florida

Tim Hardaway, who once admitted he was homophobic, now supports legalizing gay marriage in Florida.

When Tim Hardaway made anti-gay comments in 2007, he soon offered a mea culpa. But he hasn’t stopped there.
 
Rather than simply apologize and move on, the former Miami Heat star point guard has taken action. He continues to spread a message that he has changed his ways.
 
Further evidence came Wednesday night. Hardaway, who retired in 2003, was scheduled at a Miami-area restaurant to become the first signer of a petition seeking the legalization of gay marriage in Florida. The Palm Beach Post reported the petition must gather more than 680,000 signatures from registered voters to get on the state ballot.
 
After former NBA player John Amaechi revealed he is gay, Hardaway said in a radio interview in February 2007, “I hate gay people, so let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't want to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the United States." Hardaway then was barred from NBA All-Star Game activities in Las Vegas.
 
Regarding his 2007 comments, Hardaway soon stated, "I'm going to do whatever I can to correct it.” And he has.
 
There have been plenty of episodes revealing Haradway’s sincerity. In 2011, Hardaway, who starred at Texas-El Paso, attended a press conference in El Paso that called upon citizens to oppose recall efforts against three local politicians. There had been a recall effort by a group of religious conservatives due to the politicians voting to restore health benefits for gay and unmarried partners of city employees after a ballot initiative had abolished them.
 
“I opened my eyes and went to counseling,’’ Hardaway, according to the El Paso Times, said at the time of what he had done since his controversial 2007 remarks.
 
Amaechi was the first retired NBA player to reveal being gay. When Jason Collins in April became the first active NBA player to say he’s gay, Hardaway showed how far he has come.

“I’m happy for him,” Hardaway told the Palm Beach Post after Collins came out. “I know he hid it for a long time, but now he doesn’t have to hide it anymore. He is who he is and everybody’s got to accept him for who he is.

“What I did say was terrible, and it was bad and I live with it every day. It was like a bully going to beat up people every day. … They’re people just like we’re people. Let them live their lives just like we live our lives.”
 
With Hardaway having changed his stance, he has gained forgiveness. Many believed Hardaway’s chances of induction into the Hall of Fame had been damaged by his 2007 comments. But Hardaway was a finalist earlier this year for the first time, although he wasn’t selected.
 
It remains to be seen if Hardaway, a four-time All-Star who played for the Heat from 1996-2001 ever will be enshrined. He’s a borderline candidate. But it now appears whether he is worthy will be based upon his on-the-court credentials and won’t be clouded by anything that has happened off the court.
 
Hardaway revealed in 2007 he planned to “correct’’ a misstep. Everything he has done since then has shown he is sincere about that.
 
Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson