HARD TO GET OUT OF THIS.



Byline: TOM HOFFARTH

Hate to bring it up at a time when CNN's Wolf Blitzer has veered away from bombs over Baghdad to do "The Situation Room" show live from Vegas because this is such a pressing matter, but now that Terribly Tiny-Minded Tim Hardaway has learned things the hard way and become the NBA's new whipping boy for Sound Bites Gone Wrong, can we at least pat the guy on the rear end for honestly answering a question that so many closed-minded machomen would avoid, even if it ignited a spirited dialogue and eventually produced an agent-written apology that no one in their right mind believes is sincere?

How long did the guy play in the greater San Francisco area for the Golden State Warriors?

Who says Hardaway's post-NBA career is over? Can't John Amechi's publishing company hire him as a spokesman for the book?

How glad are the folks at GLAAD now that they have another idiot to hold up as an example of prehistoric thinking?

How's this lead paragraph from the fake-news service The Onion really sum everything up: "British homosexual John Amaechi sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world last week when he announced, much to the surprise of his family and friends -- in addition to NBA players and fans -- that he lived a double life for five years in which he secretly worked as a professional basketball player."

Aside from its integrity, what does the NBA have to lose by gambling on a weekend-long $2.99 sirloin steak buffet part in Vegas this weekend disguised as an All-Star Game? How soon do the Maloof brothers move the sad-sack Sacramento Kings into the basement of the Palms once the rest of the league deep thinkers convince David Stern there's too much money to leave on the crap tables by banning a franchise in the city of Michael Jordan's lost wages?

How many more close games will it take for Phil Jackson to figure out that there's no point in having Kobe Bryant on your roster if not to take the last shot, no matter whose ego you're trying to artifically boost?

How many more of Andy Reid's kids are going to be read the riot act?

What kind of wisenheimer NFL owner will hire Marty Schottenheimer now?

Does it take a lightning bolt to the head to figure out that, with all their talent, the San Diego Chargers might not even need a head coach on the payroll?

Any way to get one of those DQ'd NASCAR crew chiefs to fix the leaking crank shaft on my Mitsubishi Gallant that no one else seems to be able to figure out despite all their stupid diagnostic machines, super-duper scanners and metric box-head screwdrivers?

thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

(818)713-3661

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