Basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire, a star forward for the Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem, apologized for comments which were taken to be anti-gay.
“I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community. These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone,” Stoudemire said in a statement released by Hapoel Jerusalem.
Stoudemire previously told the Israeli website Walla Sport that he would “shower across the street” if he found out he had a gay teammate. The statement quickly caused a media firestorm.
“The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes and I am deeply sorry for offending anyone,” Stoudemire said. “I am open to creating a dialogue to assist the fight the LGBT community encounters daily and will continue to focus on playing basketball.”
Stoudemire signed a two-year contract with Hapoel Jerusalem last year. On Sunday, he received Israel’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, for his philanthropic work, which has continued since his move to Israel.
Stoudemire’s move to Israel is not strictly professional — but also spiritual. Stoudemire identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, meaning he views the ancient Israelites as his ancestors and the land of Israel as an ancestral homeland.