India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh denied that he was forced to miss the Padma Shri presentation ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Tuesday because of his endorsements and advertising contracts.
Some sections of the media slammed the bowler and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for giving the awards function a miss, saying the two were in Delhi on Tuesday but busy completing advertising assignments.
"If someone believes that I was in Delhi, and can prove it, I will quit playing cricket today itself. People make stories out of everything, but they should also see things from our end.
"I took a few days off to spend with my family because there were some problems for which I needed to be there. For me, family is the most important thing, because, I think, without them I would not be what I am today," Harbhajan said in Mumbai on Wednesday.
"The reports that are coming out that I was busy doing ad films or I was in Delhi those are not right ... and media should stop creating such stories.
"The Padma Shri awards are such prestigious awards... and every Indian wants to win it. It is not as if I didn't go for the awards ceremony deliberately, and I did feel about it. I did convey the message to them that I would not be able to attend the awards," he added.
Harbhajan thanked the government for bestowing the honour, saying he "holds it in the highest esteem".
"It means a lot to me and I am sure it will encourage me to perform even better in the future."