Pat Riley recently said he has no immediate plans to retire. But Riley 68 obviously can't go on forever.

At some point the Miami Heat president who does the work of general manager will step down. And there's a guy in his front office who wouldn't mind filling his role.

"Yes sir" Miami scout and former star point guard Tim Hardaway said when asked if it's his desire one day to be the Heat's general manager. "That's my goal. That's why I'm here every day. ... Everything is realistic. You just got to believe and make connections."

When he was a youngster and competing on the playgrounds of his native Chicago it seems Hardaway was preparing for more than just an NBA playing career. Hardaway who primarily starred for Golden State and Miami during a career that spanned from 1989-2003 said he always was interested in building teams.

"I always figured myself as a GM because I always put teams together when I was little" said Hardaway who spoke to FOX Sports Florida after a weekend appearance at Fort Lauderdale's African American Research Library and Cultural Center. "I'd put teams together to go out and win eight to 10 games in a row. I was putting my team together understanding what it takes to go out and win ballgames."

Hardaway is optimistic one day he will doing that in the NBA.

"I (have) expertise on understanding what to put out there on the basketball court what type of talent goes with talent what type of attitudes go with attitudes" said Hardaway who credits having learned plenty from Hall of Famers Riley and Don Nelson once his coach at Golden State. "I understand this collective bargaining agreement. I understand how to put teams together. I understand how to maneuver contracts."

That Hardaway 46 eventually could become an NBA general manager might have seemed implausible six years ago. In February 2007 Hardaway made anti-gay comments that resulted in him being barred from NBA All-Star Game events that month and threatened how much he might be involved in the league in the future.

After former NBA player John Amaechi had revealed he is gay Hardaway said in a radio interview "I hate gay people so let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't want to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the United States." Hardaway soon apologized but plenty of damage had been done to his reputation.

Hardaway since has gone to great lengths to make up for what he said. He attended counseling at the Yes Institute in Miami and in 2010 the Heat hired him.

Over the past several years Hardaway has provided support at several gay events. When Jason Collins earlier this year became the first active NBA player to reveal he is gay Hardaway called Collins the day the news broke to offer his support. Hardaway earlier this month was the first signer of a petition seeking the legalization of gay marriage in Florida.

"I've changed a lot" Hardaway said. "I hear my (2007) comments today and I cringe because those were bad comments. It was like I was telling people to go bully them beat them up you can commit suicide all the bad things and that's the way it sounded. I wanted to make amends to myself and make amends to everybody and make sure that they understand totally that wasn't me. I made a big mistake and I just wanted to change it."

As much Hardaway regrets the comments he said they at least resulted in dialogue he believes ultimately advanced society.

"What I said and how I said it it was bad" Hardaway said. "But I think it opened up a lot of eyes and made people really really understand that these are people and that we shouldn't bash them or throw rocks at them or anything like that. I think that opened up a lot of eyes opened up a lot of dialogue to which people didn't even want to touch (before). Now I think they will touch it. I'm not saying that it's a good thing (the comments were made) but if I didn't say that I think we still would be further back."

On April 27 news broke that Collins had written a story for Sports Illustrated in which he revealed he is gay. Hardaway immediately sought to track down Collins a 12-year NBA veteran who is a free agent this summer and still trying to find a team.

"I got his number from somebody and talked to him" Hardaway said. "It was just for me and him. I'm not on Twitter. I'm not on Facebook ... (Hardaway told Collins) 'That's great you can come out. ... Congratulations. I'm happy for you and I think this is a big step not only for you but for everybody."'