Kobe Bryant & Joakim Noah Use Anti-Gay Slurs—What Should The NBA Do?
Just a month after Kobe got hit with a whopping $100,000 for calling a referee a “f*cking f*ggot” during a regular season game late in the season, Noah has come under fire for using the same exact slur during an altercation with a fan in Miami in the middle of the Chicago Bulls/Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals matchup on Sunday night. The incident—which was posted on YouTube just a few minutes after it took place—comes on the heels of the NBA putting together this anti-gay slur PSA featuring Grant Hill, which has been airing throughout the NBA Playoffs.
Of course, Noah was quick to apologize after the game. Unlike Kobe, who waited a day before apologizing, Noah put out a statement shortly after the Heat claimed a victory over his Bulls. However, much like Kobe, he wasn’t exactly explicit in explaining why he made the statement or what he was apologizing for. “A fan said something and I said something back,” he said. “I apologized…I got caught up. I didn’t mean any disrespect to anybody.”
So, the questions have to be asked: How much should the NBA fine Noah now? Is a one-game suspension too much in light of all the controversy the Kobe incident ignited? And, most importantly, what can NBA Commissioner David Stern do to stop players like Noah from using anti-gay slurs?
We got the answer to our first question yesterday when Stern hit Noah with a $50,000 fine—$50,000 less than Kobe because Kobe’s verbal infraction was used against a game official. And we’re cool with that. We got an answer to the second question, too, when Noah was—not surprisingly—cleared to play in Game 4 of the ECF. And we’re cool with that, as well. A suspension at this point seems counterintuitive—it would end up taking away from the issue at hand instead of bringing additional light to it. By suspending Noah, the story would have become “Can the Bulls beat the Heat without Joakim Noah?” instead of “Did you hear about the guy who got fined 100 grand for making an anti-gay slur?” The first story doesn’t get people talking about the NBA’s issue, the second one does.
This leads nicely into the third question: What can NBA Commissioner David Stern do to stop players like Noah from using anti-gay slurs? The NBA has a problem on its hands. While I’d venture to say there are probably less NBA players—and professional athletes as a whole—using anti-gay slurs these days thanks to well-publicized stories like the Kobe Bryant one, the birth of things like YouTube have put the athletes who do use them front and center. But in spite of efforts like the NBA’s anti-gay slur PSA bringing about an increased awareness in athletes, the problem seems way worse than ever before because of YouTube and the Internet.
NBA players are still using the F-word. And as long as tempers flare on the basketball court and insults are exchanged between players and other players, players and referees, and players and fans, it’s going to be used. It’s time for extreme measures to make sure they don’t. If these stories continue to make national headlines, Stern needs to react by not just fining players but also threatening them with suspensions to show that he is serious about eliminating the word “faggot” from the NBA’s vernacular.
For now, Noah deserves the $50,000 fine.