Story from Feb. 16, 2007

The NBA on Wednesday and Thursday removed former All-Star Tim Hardaway from any appearances associated with the NBA and, according to the Associated Press, "banished" him from All-Star weekend, in response to Hardaway's grossly homophobic comments Wednesday.

"We removed him from representing us because we didn't think his comments were consistent with having anything to do with us," NBA commissioner David Stern said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

John Amaechi, the former NBA ballplayer who came out of the closet last week, has said he is glad the NBA took such a strong, immediate position in distancing themselves from Hardaway and his comments.

Hardaway's agent issued a statement on Thursday:

"As an African-American, I know all too well the negative thoughts and feelings hatred and bigotry cause. … I regret and apologize for the statements that I made that have certainly caused the same kinds of feelings and reactions. … I especially apologize to my fans, friends and family in Miami and Chicago. I am committed to examining my feelings and will recognize, appreciate and respect the differences among people in our society. I regret any embarrassment I have caused the league on the eve of one of their greatest annual events."

Unfortunately, given his refusal to apologize Wednesday night and early Thursday, this apology will fall on deaf ears.

Hardaway left Las Vegas all together on Thursday, heading back to his home in Miami.

Stern also said: "This is an issue overall that has fascinated America. It's not an NBA issue."

It's unfortunate that Stern would try to pass this off as "not my problem." The NBA is at the center of the biggest sports-news story of the last week, and all Stern wants to do is wash his hands of it. He should take a cue from the NFL, which has embraced its role as a social leader and implemented programs to fight homophobia, racism and sexism in the League.

Stern wants to believe that his NBA is simply based on scores and how well players contribute to victory. He is sorely mistaken.

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