Joakim Noah fined $50K for gay slur

May 23, 2011 7:13:25 PM PDT
Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 by the NBA for yelling a gay slur at a Miami fan during Sunday night's game.

On Monday, Noah apologized for his words as his teammates came to his defense. It's the second time in recent weeks the NBA has disciplined players for using gay slurs during games.

"You know, tough game yesterday. Just losing the game was definitely tough. I learn from my mistakes. I think that with the comment to the fan, I just want to apologize about that. I had just picked up my second foul. I was frustrated. He said something that was disrespectful towards me, and I lost my cool," Noah said Monday.

Noah said the Miami fan taunted him relentlessly, but he said that's not an excuse for the language he used.

"No, I mean, I've been dealing with that for a long time. But sometimes fans say things that are a little bit overboard. But, still, it's on us not to react. If you react, they win. And I did," Noah said. "So, you know, it was a bad decision on my part, and I'm going to face some pretty severe consequences."

Last month, L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using the same epithet against a referee.

"I think these pro teams are smart to not come out and not fine guys 10k, 20k, but a six-figure big-time fine that they reserve only for the worst-case scenarios," Marc Silverman, ESPN 100 Radio, said.

Bulls fans weighed in on the matter Monday during calls to ESPN 1000. Some said, while it was a poor choice of words, it was in a context that they understand.

"We're exaggerating something that deep down it's something that everybody understood what he was saying," said one caller.

But such words should be off-limits, according to Jeremy Gottschalk of Equality Illinois, who said, "I don't think anybody takes issue with him being caught up in the moment or wanting to vent his frustration. It's the manner in which you do it and it's the words you use."

Gottschalk said a recent public service announcement by the NBA that denounces gay slurs is a step in the right direction.

Mark Sakalares, who plays with the Chicago Gay Men's Basketball League, said he knows from personal experience what it's like to be on the other end of a gay slur.

"Every day things get stronger, but then it takes one minor setback like this and takes you back a long way and you have to rebuild from there," said Sakalares.

Noah said he didn't realize he had even made the slur until after the game.

"People who know me know I'm an open-minded guy," he said. " I'm not here to hurt anybody's feelings. I'm just here to, you know, help win a basketball game."

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