On Sunday night, the TNT cameras caught Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah exchanging words with someone — presumably a Miami Heat fan — while he was sitting on the bench, during the first quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Noah appeared to bark a profanity, then a homophobic slur. Check out the evidence above.
Here’s a slowed-down version:
The clip looked pretty damning. After the game, which Miami won, 95-86, Noah admitted to saying the foul words. “I apologize,” he told reporters. “The fan said something to me that I thought was disrespectful, and I got caught up in the moment, and I responded. I said some things that I shouldn’t have said. I was frustrated and I didn’t mean any disrespect to anybody.”
Noah will receive a hefty fine. He should probably be docked extra money for stupidity. In April, the cameras caught Kobe Bryant barking the same word at an official, and fined him $100,000. The NBA takes the issue of anti-gay language seriously. Even before the Bryant incident, the league filmed a public service announcement, featuring Grant Hill and Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns, warning about the dangers of homophobic speech. And early last week, Suns president and CEO Rick Welts came out of the closet, a move that was taken as a hopeful sign that the anti-gay vibe that has pervaded sports for years was finally fading.
Guess Noah didn’t get the message.