Basketball Hall of Fame player Tim Hardaway had to issue an apology during the San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors broadcast on Monday night. Earlier in the game when commenting about a player’s defense that was over the line, Hardaway used the word “raping.” This isn’t the first time Hardaway has said vile things publicly. In 2007 he said “I hate gay people” on the “Dan Le Batard Show.” It doesn’t seem like Hardaway changed much in the last 15 years.
“See, ya’ll thought that was great D, I thought that was just raping him,” said Hardaway. “I think he should have called the police on that.”
🤣 This… pic.twitter.com/3cRauTeN7u
— Da Almighty V.O.N. 🔜💍💍💍💍💍 (@Da_Almighty_Von) November 15, 2022
The comments were made in the third quarter of the game and Hardaway issued an apology at the beginning of the fourth.
“Hey everybody,” Hardaway said as the game headed into the fourth quarter. “I used a poor choice of words earlier in the broadcast. I want to apologize for that. And, you know, let’s get back to the game. And, let’s finish this game off with a 30-point win and go home happy.”
Hardaway was in the broadcast booth for the team’s special “Run TMC” broadcast — which featured him and his former teammates Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond. Hardaway’s callous and disgusting comment was a sophomoric attempt at humor in the jock culture of professional sports. No doubt being in the booth with his old teammates brought back memories of times they shared.
This isn’t to say that while they were teammates they specifically used words like rape in the locker room. But when you get three former professional athletes on the microphone, things might go to an awkward or uncomfortable place.
The reality is that locker rooms in professional sports are sexist, racist, toxic, and homophobic. Don’t believe me? Ask the King of Jocks, Charles Barkley.
“We are rude, crude, racist, sexist, and homophobic in a locker room,” said Barkley to Dan Patrick in 2013. “Stuff that we said we can’t say on your show. We can’t say in mixed company. We can’t say at the dinner table.”
While we can’t know for sure if Hardaway ever used the term rape in a “joking” manner in a locker room setting, we can surmise that he’s been in and a part of locker room conversations that wouldn’t work, as Barkley put it, “in mixed company.”
The familiar environment Hardaway found himself in with Richmond and Mullin may have caused him to temporarily lose his mind and forget he was on broadcast television.
Regardless, the casual nature in which he invokes the word “raping” suggests he still speaks and possibly thinks in the same problematic ways he did as a player and in 2007 when he made the homophobic remarks.
According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That is an insane percentage.
No doubt many women and people more broadly found Hardaway’s language triggering, and understandably reacted.
This isn’t about firing Hardaway or anything like that, because what would firing him ultimately do?
It’s a larger issue about recognizing the way we as human beings interact with one another and how words are damaging. It’s about mindsets and attitudes that we harbor about one another.
After his 2007 incident Hardaway spent time educating himself about LGBT issues and had a change of heart. Like all of us, looks like he still has some work to do.