NBA Gay Slurs

By Dennis Berry

Does the NBA Have a Problem with Derogatory Slurs?

The NBA fined Joakim Noah $50,000 Monday for yelling an anti-gay slur towards a fan during game three of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night. The cameras were on Noah as he was on the bench during the first quarter and yelled toward a fan.

This is the second time that an NBA player has been caught on television using the slur. Kobe Bryant was caught using the same slur in a regular season game against San Antonio in April. Bryant was fined $100,000 by the league.

It both instances the players let their emotions get the best of them.

Kobe Bryant yelled the slur towards a game official. After receiving a technical foul, Bryant went to the bench and punched a chair. Soon after the cameras were on Kobe as he yelled the slur towards the referee Bennie Adams.

Bryant Yells at Ref

On Sunday night Noah was on the bench and turns toward the fan and yelled to him. From what is known, a fan behind the Bulls bench had been yelling at Noah since the start of the game. It seems statements about Noah's mom pushed him to lash out.

Noah Yells at Fan

Just seeing two NBA players use such a slur is very troublesome in itself for the league. Another aspect that is upsetting is the fact that the NBA did not fine Noah more than Bryant. Instead Noah was only fined half of what Bryant was. If anything Noah should have been fined more, because he should have known better after what happened to Bryant.

The NBA acknowledged that the reason that Bryant's fined included discipline for verbal abuse of a game official. NBA Commissioner David Stern called Bryant's slur, "offensive and inexcusable."

The NBA also condemned Noah's comments, but it must have been different because it was directed towards a fan. The NBA called Noah's use of the slur, "derogatory and offensive."

The question is why Noah was only fined half of Bryant. It appears that the NBA thinks that yelling a derogatory slur towards a referee is worse then yelling it at a fan. That fan paid for his ticket to be able to watch the game. It almost makes the NBA seem to care less about the fans than their referees.

If anything, Noah should have been fined the same amount as Bryant. Just because Noah directed it to a fan and Bryant to a referee makes no difference. The use of such a slur has no place in the game and should be fined equally. If anything, Noah should be fined more because he knew better after what happened with Bryant.

Another question this brings up is what fans' rights are during games. Fans that pay for tickets have every right to enjoy the game. They should be able to cheer and yell as loud as they please. They can boo and show their dislike for something, too.

What about yelling at players? If fans choose to yell at players for poor play on the floor, that is fine. Fans should not curse at players or yell things about a player's family. That is uncalled for and there is no place for that, it does not matter if you bought a ticket.

Players themselves need to show better control, too. Just because they get upset does not give them the right to yell whatever they want. They need to show more self control when they are upset. They do not need to be shouting at refs or fans in such a manner.

Both Noah and Bryant apologized for what they said, but this is not the kind of attention that the NBA wants.

NBA Gay Slurs
Chicago's Joakim Noah in Atlanta Hawks 100-88 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Eastern Conference Semi Finals Game 4 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA.

Last week Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts came out and said that he is gay. Also the NBA has started airing a public service statement denouncing the use of anti-gay slurs. Noah's actions make you wonder if players are really taking to the message the NBA is putting out.

NBA Public Service Statement

The NBA must do a better job of eliminating this and all derogatory statements from the game. If they want to fine players then the fine must be the same across the board, no matter who the statement is directed to. If that does not work then perhaps they need to look into suspending players.

Whatever it takes, the NBA needs to take every step to make sure that its players are not caught on camera using slurs when they get upset.

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