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Ex-NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire: I would ‘shower across the street’ to avoid gay teammate

03.01.17 at 4:09 pm ET
Amar'e Stoudemire averaged 18.9 points per game during his NBA career. (Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

Amar’e Stoudemire averaged 18.9 points per game during his NBA career. (Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

When former NBA center Jason Collins came out of the closet four years ago, he appeared to receive widespread support around the league. Several stars, including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, tweeted out their admiration for him. But it’s important to remember that despite public displays of solidarity, homophobia still persists in locker rooms across the country. Six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire demonstrated that this week when he was asked about the prospect of having a gay teammate.

In an interview with the Israel-based Walla! Sports, Stoudemire said he wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing a post-game shower with a gay person.

“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,” he said.

The former Suns and Knicks forward didn’t back off when he was asked whether he was kidding.

“There’s always a truth within a joke,” Stoudemire said.

After 15 seasons in the NBA, Stoudemire is currently playing for Hapoel Jerusalem of Israel’s Premier League. He was fined $50,000 in 2012 for tweeting a gay slur during the offseason, which he apologized for.

“I am a huge supporter of civil rights for all people,” he said, via ESPN. “I am disappointed in myself for my statement to a fan. I should have known better and there is no excuse.”

But after listening to Stoudemire’s most recent comments, it’s apparent his apology was little more than lip service. Considering no active player in the four major professional sports leagues has come out since Collins and former NFL prospect Michael Sam in 2013, it’s safe to surmise Stoudemire probably isn’t alone, either. On a corporate level, the sports world is more tolerant than ever before. But Stoudemire’s statement is a reminder there’s still a lot of work to be done.

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