Imagine if the same sentiment, the same words, had been uttered by LeBron James or Tom Brady. It would be an explosion across and beyond sports – a national scandal.
Instead it is retired NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire who, with much less fanfare, has become the latest athlete to join the Shame Club, committing reputation suicide with the usual weapon, bigotry.
Stoudemire ended his stateside career with the Miami Heat last season and now plays for Hapoel Jerusalem in the Israeli Premier League. He told the Israeli website Walla Sport he would make efforts to avoid any teammate he knew to be gay, saying, “I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner.” Asked of he were kidding, he stepped it back only slightly, saying, “I mean, there’s always a truth within a joke.”
It isn’t the scandal it might have been because Stoudemire is retired from the NBA, is overseas and the interview was not seen or heard. Also, because, sadly, it isn’t a big shock, considering Stoudmire, then a New York Knick, was fined $50,000 by the league in 2012 for Tweeting a gay slur.
He apologized at the time, saying, “I’m a huge supporter of civil rights for all. I am disappointed in myself. There is no excuse.”
Not quite five years later he evidently forgot he was a huge supporter of civil rights for all.
Stoudemire’s own website refers to him as a “Renaissance Man.”
Can we make that “Cave Man” instead?
Retired NBA player John Amaechi, who is gay, blasted Stoudemire in an interview with TMZ Sports, calling him a “braying jackass” and adding, “These are serious times and we need serious people to lead important conversations, not petulant man-children spouting puerile prejudice.”
Oh, and how’s this: Two days before Stoudemire reannounced his bigotry against gays, he had received Israel’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award given for promoting diversity and tolerance. Oops!
Look, expressing homophobia is one’s freedom of speech, alas. It is not against the law unless it turns into a hate crime. It is punishable, though, and Stoudemire is now feeling the wrath of his own stupidity as his reputation and name slog in the mud he created.
Welcome to the Shame Club, Amar’e. No meetings to attend, but the dues you must pay can be very high, indeed.