In the wake of widespread outcry over his homophobic rant during an interview with the Israeli Walla Sport website, former NBA All-Star Amare Stoudemire has apologized for his remarks, saying “the answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes and I am deeply sorry for offending anyone.”
Stoudemire, who received a Martin Luther King award for promoting tolerance and diversity just before the interview, is currently playing with the Hapoel Jerusalem team in the Middle Eastern state. He was asked about playing alongside a hypothetical gay teammate.
“I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner,” Stoudemire responded, “and I’m going to drive — take a different route to the gym.“
The reporter questioning Stoudemire asked if the athlete was joking, to which Stoudemire responded, “there’s always a truth within a joke“.
Despite Stoudemire’s protestations of levity, past gay NBA players criticized his comments. “His homophobic comments have no place in sport or in our society,” said retired Brooklyn Nets forward Jason Collins, who came out while still active in the NBA three years ago.
John Amaechi, who remained closeted during his time in the NBA’s Utah Jazz, also decried Stoudemire’s tirade. “These are serious times and we need serious people to lead important conversations, not petulant man-children spouting puerile prejudice. There is already one too many of those holding court in the media, and the world is poorer for it,” Amaechi stated, adding, “within the world of sport there are plenty of true role models — on and off the floor — whose words are carefully chosen to uplift and integrate society, not join [President Donald] Trump and his grinning cabal in their ‘locker room banter‘”.
Stoudemire has previously attacked the LGBT community. The NBA levied a $50,000 fine against him for making an anti-gay tweet while playing with the New York Knicks in 2012.