After spending five seasons as a professional basketball player, John Amaechi finds it "astonishing" that anyone would be surprised by the anti-gay remarks made by his former NBA colleague Tim Hardaway.
"I'm not surprised. To me, it's astonishing that anybody would be surprised to hear them," Amaechi told ABC News' John Berman.
Amaechi publicly announced that he was gay last week. Responding to Amaechi's revelation, Hardaway said in a radio interview Wednesday, "I let it be known I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people."
The retired Miami Heat star has since issued a statement of apology to "anyone I have offended," but Amaechi believes the initial remarks have had an impact.
"It has made it tangibly less safe for gays and lesbians throughout the country, because he has polluted the atmosphere with hatred," Amaechi said.
"Since Tim's comments, the number of vitriolic and hate-filled e-mails has increased," he added. "They don't have a complaint, they just want me to know I am hated."
No active NBA player has ever said they were gay, and Amaechi said when he was in the league, it did not seem like a welcome announcement.
"I didn't have [an] environment where I felt I could come out," he said. "It is very difficult in the NBA simply because of the amount of public exposure … the coming out process is very individual for most people. In the NBA environment, that option isn't available."