The NBA have removed Tim Hardaway from all league related appearances, after the five-time All-Star made derogatory comments about gays.
The former Miami Heat guard, had been part of the NBA's festivities ahead of Sunday's All-Star game in Las Vegas, but an interview he conducted with a Miami radio station has caused outrage in America.
Hardaway was asked how he would react to having a gay team-mate, in response to the recent news that former NBA centre John Amaechi has come out as being gay.
"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," was Hardaway's response.
"I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
"First of all, I wouldn't want [a gay man] on my team, and second of all, if he was on my team, I would really distance myself from him because I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room.
"If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room who are upset and can't concentrate and are always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your team-mates to win and accept him as a team-mate." After the tirade, NBA commissioner David Stern confirmed that they would no longer be using Hardaway to promote the game on-behalf of the Association.
“It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," Stern said in a statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Hardaway has since apologised for his comments.
“I regret it, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that, that was my mistake," he told a local TV station in Miami.
Meanwhile, Amaechi, whose coming out led to Hardaway being quizzed on the issue, says the comments may actually lead to a more educated debate on the subject.
“Finally, someone who is honest”, he said.
“It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted, and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable, but it is honest, and it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far.”