Tim Bug's Hidden Provocative SLAM Quote
I've been a fan of SLAM magazine ever since I happened upon Issue 1 (Grandmama!) rather randomly at a supermarket newsstand in 1994, and I have a collection dating back to Issue 8 to prove it (what did I ever do with Ish 1?!).
SLAM has always seemed to be a fairly polarizing magazine due to its hip-hop-flavored sensibilities and voice. Probably esp. so in the '90s, I think, when it was something closer to one of a kind, as opposed to now, when there are so many disparate styles and voices out here in the glorious Wild West of the basketball blogosphere (some of which owe a debt to SLAM).
I have always loved SLAM, in part just because I think it's a beautifully laid-out and designed magazine, but mainly b/c I've always felt that the magazine's voice has primarily been an expression of an unapologetic love of the game - nothing more, nothing less - more than anything else.
Back in the '90s before the Internet took off and allowed for a wide array of sources, NBA coverage was still primarily provided by a narrow set of reporters and commentators in the mainstream media, many of whom seemed to outright hate the league.
As such, I always found (and still do, to a certain extent) SLAM magazine to be something of an oasis - I'm just part of a community of readers who love the game, and it's a place where I don't have explain or justify why I like the NBA to anyone who doesn't get it.
To the point... I've always been amused at how the mainstream media seems to ignore SLAM to the point where the magazine is treated like it doesn't exist, or is an alternate universe, perhaps. Newsworthy and/or provocative quotes from the magazine rarely seem to surface in the MSM or in the mainstream discussion of the league.
As an example, I was recently catching up on the September issue and was reading the Tim Hardaway profile. The article - "The Education of Tim Hardaway" - was both about how Tim Bug developed his game on Chicago's South Side and at UTEP, and also about how Hardaway seemed to be genuinely trying to make amends for his hateful comments after John Amaechi came out of the closet - consistent with reporting from last year.
And then, lo and behold, after I jumped to page 87 to continue, I found this quote from Hardaway snuck in on the next-to-last page of content in the magazine:
- "I know for a fact that an NBA player came out to his team this year, and it wasn't a big deal."
Yet, a Google search of various subsets and combinations of the quote returned just one mention, on Interbasket (which is a fine site for coverage of the international game, I might add).
It's a tough one because it's hard to follow up on this particular quote with anything other than salacious and somewhat ridiculous speculation. It probably spotlights the fact that the complications of an active athlete coming out of the closet might be related to dealing publicly with the media and the fans at least as much as with one's teammates.
Still, the quote at least deserved a little bit of mention and discussion, didn't it?
UPDATE: Here's a little more context from the SLAM article for the Hardaway quote above:
- "I don't hate anybody," Tim Hardaway told me recently. "Look at my background, my past. I misspoke, and I apologized."
Hardaway has since learned that some of his closest friends have gay sons and daughters. So Hardaway quietly decided to walk the walk. He sat in on several all-day seminars at Miami's YES Institute, which provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens. "It's for kids who have trouble dealing with their sexuality," Hardaway says, insisting he never wanted his comments to be used to bash gay kids. "But I've learned that dealing with parents and relatives can be the most traumatic," he says, before quoting the high suicide stats among gay youth.
And he still thinks Amaechi could have "come out" to his Jazz or Magic teammates, instead of waiting until he was retired. "Trust us as teammates, let us deal with it," he adds. "I know for a fact that an NBA player came out to his team this year, and it wasn't a big deal. Be up front."