Two days after winning Israel’s prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award for his work with underprivileged children, Amar’e Stoudemire suggested in a video posted Tuesday his goodwill does not extend to all types of people.
The former Knicks forward, who is playing with Israeli basketball club Hapoel Jerusalem, said (joked?) he would avoid a theoretical homosexual teammate.
In an interview with Israeli website Walla Sport, Stoudemire was asked how comfortable he would feel playing with an openly gay teammate.
“I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner,” he said, with a smile. “And I’m going to drive. … Take a different route to the gym.”
When the interviewer twice asked if he were joking, Stoudemire teetered on stirring real controversy.
“I mean, there’s always a truth within a joke,” said Stoudemire, who retired from the NBA after last season.
Before the video gets to Stoudemire’s vaguely homophobic response, the majority of American players featured said they would have no issue if a teammate identified as gay, with one unidentified player adding, “As long as he didn’t mess with me.”
Stoudemire, 34, was embroiled in a homophobic controversy in 2012, the second of his five-year tenure with the Knicks. The 6-foot-10 power forward allegedly sent a fan a profanity-laced note after the disgruntled fan told him to pick up his game next season in a direct message on Twitter.
“F–k you,” Stoudemire wrote. “I don’t have to do anything [slur].’’
Stoudemire’s views on homosexuals ironically resurfaced days after he accepted an award championing his efforts to promote diversity and tolerance. Stoudemire joined the ranks of Russell Simmons, Harry Belafonte and Toni Morrison, who are previous recipients of the award.
Stoudemire and his wife, Alexis, have been recognized for their philanthropy around the world, particularly their efforts to eliminate poverty by empowering children through education.
“I am truly honored to be receiving this amazing award,” Stoudemire said in a press release. “It is very gratifying to know that all the work that the ‘Alexis and Amar’e Foundation’ has done over the years is not overlooked. I am blessed to be able to give back to the community, that’s what it’s all about.”
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