Amid criticism, Amar'e Stoudemire apologizes for insensitive remarks about gay teammates

Alexis and Amar’e Stoudemire. (Getty Images)
Alexis and Amar’e Stoudemire. (Getty Images)

Amar’e Stoudemire’s apology, as was the case five years ago when he first made the news for homophobic acts in response to absolutely nothing, hit as expected on Wednesday. The 14-year NBA vet and current Israeli League big man got right to the point when explaining away his choice to make jokes about prospective gay teammates hitting on him in the locker room:

“I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community. These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone. The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes & I am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I am open to creating a dialogue to assist the fight the LGBT community encounters daily and will continue focus on playing basketball.”

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Stoudemire’s initial “comedic” entry, that bored joke, revealed far too much “truth” for us to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Ennui alone, in the face of an international press that probably still considers the former NBA All-Star to be a novelty (the feeling is mutual, we assure you), didn’t fully lead to Stoudemire believing that it was in his best interests to “shower across the street” and “take a different route to the gym” should a gay teammate await him in the squad’s locker room:

“I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner,” Stoudemire said, “and I’m going to drive (and) take a different route to the gym.”

The journalist then asks Stoudemire if he’s joking.

“There’s always a truth within a joke,” he responded.

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Remember that, even without the addition of the go-to homophobic slur of Stoudemire’s past, this is still a massive whiff. Amar’e Stoudemire, however jokingly, is basically painting any future prospective gay teammate as a sexual predator, bent on using the locker room for means beyond changing into the clothes made appropriate by the company for that day’s work.

The heat Stoudemire took in was deserved. He’s already played with gay teammates at some point in his amateur or professional career, without incident, and it would seem out of line and character for anyone in 2017 (or several years before) – especially an otherwise-intelligent, 33-year old – to think even jokingly that a potential gay teammate was only in it to get a look at whatever goods a 30-something, married heterosexual athlete would provide briefly while partially undressed in a locker room.

It was this sort of astonishing hubris that led John Amaechi, the former NBA center and current educator who came out in 2007, to shake his head at Stoudemire’s small, joking bit:

“Could someone please tell this man to stop flattering himself. It’s embarrassing.”

He went on:

Jason Collins, who made history as the NBA and North American professional sports’ first openly gay active team sport participant, also noted the incongruity of Stoudemire’s recent acceptance of his team’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award for his foundation’s charity work:

Stoudemire, as was noted by many, also found himself in hot water after a Twitter user revealed that the then-Knicks forward had used a homophobic slur in a one-sided direct message conversation on the website in 2012. Amar’e was fined $50,000 by the league then, prior to offering this apology:

“I am a huge supporter of civil rights for all people. I am disappointed in myself for my statement to a fan. I should have known better and there is no excuse.”

Following in their grand tradition of chasing down anyone with a waiting ride at the Los Angeles International Airport, TMZ caught up with former Los Angeles Lakers forward (and near-Amaechi teammate, in 1999) Devean George for his thoughts on where Amar’e fell flat:

“Come on bro, you can’t do that,” George told us … “He’s too old for that.”

He added, “Obviously he should apologize but some people have their opinions and they believe in their beliefs so he can say what he wants to say … but it’s not a good look.”

It is true that people “have their opinions,” but that doesn’t mean that these sorts of things have any merit in real life. Any fanciful examples you could come up with would just undermine the remaining image of Amar’e Stoudemire painting professionals that happen to be gay as sleaze artists out to infiltrate his otherwise Sophia Loren-obsessed (again, to the best of his knowledge) locker room. Out to hook up with those they go to work with.

Based on the reader response to many following the release of Stoudemire’s video, it appears that we do need this reminder: if you are a straight male that works in an office setting, you wouldn’t want to be assumed a sexual predator by every woman in the building.

Even if your existence, as is the case with the imagined gay teammate on Stoudemire’s Hapoel Jerusalem club (“imagined” to the best of Amar’e’s knowledge, at this point) is a purely hypothetical one. LGBT guys and gals would kind of like it if you wouldn’t sexualize them to a ridiculous degree.

More importantly, LBGT children that could be staring down a season or even career as the gay kid (and then adult) in the locker room shouldn’t have to see these sorts of unfounded stereotypes dragged out into the culture at large again. It is possible, in the same way Amar’e Stoudemire stops himself from hitting on every attractive, unavailable woman he comes into the contact with, for people to act with a sense of tact, professionalism and decorum in regards to their sexuality.

If Stoudemire or anyone else is still making bad jokes about this in 2017, then they need to get their collective junk together. Not because policing missteps via basketball website has a major societal impact, but because people once again need to be reminded of the humanity inherent in our LGBT brothers and sisters. If you think for a second that life as a male gay athlete delves into a daily dingleberry-staring contest, then you need to grow up.

And you need to learn what real teammates are all about. They’re likely, gay or otherwise, already working just one stall over. Learn a bit now, and save the “braying jackass” run of bad jokes for later.

And, for goodness sakes, actually mean your apology this time, Amar’e Stoudemire. Do something about this.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!