JERUSALEM (JTA) – Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire apologized for making homophobic comments to an Israeli website, saying his remarks were “offensive” but meant to be “taken as jokes.”
“I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone.”
In an interview with the Hebrew-language news site Walla posted Tuesday, Stoudemire and some Hapoel Jerusalem teammates were asked whether they would have a problem with a gay teammate
The other players indicated it would not be an issue. But Stoudemire, in a response caught on video, said: “I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner. And I’m going to drive – take a different route to the gym.”
Asked by the reporter if he were joking, Stoudemire replied that “there’s always a truth within a joke.”
In his statement, Stoudemire said, “The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes & I am deeply sorry for offending anyone.”
He added: “I am open to creating a dialogue to assist the fight the LGBT community encounters daily and will continue to focus on playing basketball.”
In 2012, Stoudemire was fined $50,000 by the NBA for using a gay slur on Twitter in response to a critical fan.
The comments came two days after Stoudemire was presented in Israel with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award from the State of Israel, Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. The award is presented annually in celebration of Black History Month to individuals who embody the spirit and ideals of King through their efforts to promote diversity and tolerance.
Stoudemire, who claims Jewish ancestry, signed a two-year deal with Hapoel Jerusalem in August following a 14-year career in the NBA.