As a player, Tim Hardaway electrified NBA arenas throughout the 1990s, teaming with Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond to make the Golden State Warriors' "Run TMC" teams a staple of nightly highlight reels.
But while Mullin and Richmond were both inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this decade, the third member of their triumvirate has had no such luck. Though he's been named a finalist five times, Hardaway believes an infamous off-court incident has kept him out of Springfield so far.
"Well, you know, the reason I’m not in is because of what I said in 2007 about gay people," Hardaway told HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy. "That’s why I’m not in right now, and I understand it. I hurt a lot of people’s feelings and it came off the wrong way and it was really bad of me to say that."
In a 2007 radio interview with Dan Le Batard, Hardaway said he wouldn't welcome playing alongside a gay teammate. When pressed that his comments were homophobic, Hardaway responded, "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic."
The condemnation of the five-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist's comments was swift. Then-NBA commissioner David Stern forbade Hardaway from attending All-Star Weekend as an ambassador of the league.
Retired player John Amaechi, who had publicly come out as gay prior to Hardaway's interview, was especially vocal, saying the remarks showed "a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable," according to ESPN.
Hardaway has since undertaken steps to heal the damage of his words. He has partnered with LGBTQ non-profits and was the first to sign a petition in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida, according to a 2017 piece by the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps. Jason Collins revealed that Hardaway had called to offer his support after the 13-year veteran came out during the 2013-14 season.
Still, Hardaway doesn't think anything can be done to change the minds of Hall of Fame voters.
"But, yeah, that’s the only reason why I’m not in (the Hall of Fame) and I understand that," Hardaway told Kennedy. "There’s nothing I can do about it. You got to take your bumps and bruises, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I just try to be positive. It hurts. But, hey, I understand the ramifications of (what I said). I understand why I’m not in."