Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t a member of an NBA team anymore, but he is still playing professionally in Israel. He’s also still making news, in this case for some homophobic comments he made Tuesday to a website in that country.
Stoudemire, who has been playing since 2016 for Hapoel Jerusalem, a team he co-owns, was asked if he would have a problem with having a gay teammate. Other members of the squad were asked the same question, and according to a video of the segment, they all said they would not, with one player adding, “As long as he didn’t mess with me.”
However, Stoudemire offered a different take:
“I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner,” he said.
“And I’m going to drive [and] take a different route to the gym.”
Stoudemire, who made his comments with a hint of a smile, was then asked if he was joking. “I mean, there’s always a truth within a joke,” he replied.
Stoudemire had a chance to clarify that he was just kidding, although some would still have found his initial comments to have been in poor taste. However, by claiming that there was some “truth” to what he said, the 34-year-old forward opened himself to accusations of homophobia.
In 2012, while playing for the Knicks, Stoudemire was fined $50,000 by the NBA for directing a homophobic slur at a Twitter user, an incident that occurred during the league’s Gay Pride weekend. “I am a huge supporter of civil rights for all people,” Stoudemire said in a subsequent statement. “I am disappointed in myself for my statement to a fan. I should have known better and there is no excuse.”
On Sunday, Stoudemire was honored by the Consulate General of Israel in New York, receiving its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Award, which is given to “individuals and organizations promoting ethnic and cultural understanding.” The six-time NBA all-star was cited for his foundation’s work with at-risk youth.
Around the time he joined the Knicks in 2010, Stoudemire revealed that he had been exploring his Jewish heritage. “I have been aware since my youth that I am a Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
Stoudemire, who spent his first eight seasons in Phoenix, where he had his greatest success, finished his NBA career with brief stints in Dallas and Miami. He helped Hapoel Jerusalem win the Israeli Basketball League Cup last year.
(H/T CBS Sports)