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Noah fined $50K for gay slur

May 24, 2011

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— Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 on Monday for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, and vowed to learn from the incident.

The NBA released its decision hours after speaking with Noah, saying the fine was “for using a derogatory and offensive term from the bench.”

The fine is only half of what Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant was assessed for shouting the same slur toward a referee last month, and the league said the discrepancy was because the sanction against Bryant was based on both what he said — and who he said it to.

“Kobe’s fine included discipline for verbal abuse of a game official,” NBA spokesman Mark Broussard said.

Noah and NBA officials met Monday morning. Noah said he emerged from that talk prepared to “pay the price” for what happened when he returned to the bench with two fouls midway through the first quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Miami Heat.

That price turned out to be 1.6 percent of his roughly $3.1 million salary this season. Noah agreed to an extension last year, worth about $60 million through the 2015-16 season.

Meanwhile, two major advocacy groups quickly called upon the league to both sanction Noah and help further educate players on the topic.

“The fan said something that was disrespectful towards me,” Noah said, about five hours before the fine was announced. “And I went back at him. Got it on camera. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not like that. I’m an open-minded guy. I said the wrong thing and I’m going to pay the consequences — deal with the consequences — like a man. I don’t want to be a distraction to the team right now.”

Television cameras captured Noah saying an expletive, followed by the slur. Noah said he did not realize the gravity of the situation until he was questioned by reporters after the game Sunday, adding that he meant “no disrespect” to anyone.

Bryant was fined $100,000 last month, and just last week, Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts revealed he was gay, a rare acknowledgement for someone holding a prominent position in men’s sports.

“We know what business we are in,” Heat forward LeBron James said Monday. “Emotions get played. ... I don’t think it was right what he said. But emotions do get said over the course of the game. We know there’s going to be microphones. We know there’s going to be cameras around. You just have to be cautious about what you say and just try to control your emotions as much as possible.”

The Heat won Sunday’s game 96-85, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is tonight in Miami.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, said it reached out to the NBA and the Bulls on Monday “to discuss next steps.”

Comments

Eybea Opiner 3 years, 7 months ago

Now we know where fans rate with the NBA. Utter a slur against a referee and get a $100K fine. Uttering one against a fan is half-price.

Take_a_letter_Maria 3 years, 7 months ago

The fine for Kobe was 50 for the slur 50 for abusing an official.

Actually sounds like the league got the fines backward though. The officials are at least getting paid to be there as opposed to the fans who are, in essence, paying the players.

50YearResident 3 years, 7 months ago

The whole thing is total BS. Why do players have to pay big $$ for expressing their opinion? How about the fan? I bet he returned the slur comment. How much should he get fined?

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

That seems reasonable at first glance, but perhaps not reacting to fans is part of the job for professional athletes.

After all, it's the willingness of fans to pay lots of money for tickets that pays their salaries.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

If it's illegal, then arrest them.

Otherwise, I'd say that the extraordinarily high salaries professional athletes get is more than enough compensation for being insulted.

ivalueamerica 3 years, 7 months ago

Free speech is a false argument in this case. The players agree to a set of restrictions on their public behavior because they are not representing themselves but their employers, just as any employee does, especially while on the clock. When they are on time paid for by someone else, they have limits.

If we followed your absurd logic through to its full extreme, then you are saying that you can go into your local walmart to buy your polyester capris pants that are 2 sizes to small and the walmart employee should have the right to call you a nasty name with impunity.

Grow up and actually learn what the Constitution means.

formerfarmer 3 years, 7 months ago

The players should join the Westboro Babtist Church, then it would be their constitutional right to use such language.

50YearResident 3 years, 7 months ago

Is it comming down to you can't call a pig, a pig because it is derogatory? Where is it all going to end?

jonas_opines 3 years, 7 months ago

Except that calling someone who is being rude or obnoxious a gay slur is Not calling a pig a pig. More like calling a pig a dog.

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