Chicago native and former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway has plenty of reasons to be intrigued by the Eastern Conference finals, including one negative storyline that resurrected a low point for Hardaway.
When Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for shouting an anti-gay slur at a Heat fan during Game 3, it evoked the the memories of similar incidents, including a radio interview Hardaway granted that stained the image of the former All-Star point guard.
In 2007, after former NBA player John Amaechi admitted he was gay, Hardaway went on a Miami radio station and said: "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
That's a far cry from the short, emotional outburst Noah directed at a heckling fan. Still, Hardaway said Noah acted appropriately after the incident by immediately accepting responsibility and admitting it was a mistake.
"He took the onus and went ahead and corrected the whole situation, like I did," Hardaway said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "That's all you can do is correct the situation.
"You're not trying to hurt anybody. You're not trying to offend anyone. You just have to take the right approach and hold your own self accountable for it and make everything right. That's all you can do."
Hardaway currently works as a player program liaison for the Heat and has worked with groups to educate himself on issues affecting the gay community. But he said he's still dealing with the fallout from his comments.
"It hurt (my reputation) tremendously," he said. "I'm still trying to rectify it. People ask me about it, and I tell them, 'That's in the past. I'm moving forward.'
"I still learn from it and it's still a bump in the road for me. But you have to still move forward, still have to keep going, and that's the way it is. I'm not trying to shy away from it. I'm not trying to say I didn't do it. I'm rectifying it. I understand what I said and how I said it, which was wrong. And I'm just trying to move on from it."