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Joakim Noah admits to using gay slur, apologizes

May 23, 2011, 12:57 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game One Getty Images

UPDATE 12:57 am: After the game Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah admitted to using a gay slur against a fan and apologized for it, as reported by the Associated Press.

“I apologize,” Noah 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.”

That was good of Noah to do, the right thing to do. Own up to your mistakes. That’s not going to save him from the massive fine on the way, that precedent has been set.

12:10 am: After picking up his second foul early in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls’ Game 3 loss to the Miami Heat, Joakim Noah was caught by TNT cameras using the same gay slur that Kobe Bryant directed at referee Benny Adams in April. TNT cameras followed Noah to the bench, where Noah was in an argument with a fan and appeared to call him a “f*****g f****t.”

When Bryant was caught using the slur, it caused significant controversy, and Bryant was ultimately forced to pay a $100,000 fine. Since the incident, both the NBA and the Lakers have produced PSAs about the use of slurs regarding race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Given that Noah directed his slur at a fan and not at a referee, he probably won’t have to pay as heavy a fine as Bryant did, but it seems like the league has set a precedent for the use of on-court slurs that was not in place when Kevin Garnett was caught using them in the 2008 playoffs, so a fine seems highly likely.

The lesson here is obvious: when you are on the court, a camera could be watching you at any time, so it’s probably for the best to conduct yourself as if millions of all ages, races, and sexual orientations are watching your every statement and move. If you don’t, you had better be prepared to pay the consequences.

  1. Justin - May 23, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Oh jeez here we go again with this stuff. To be honest when it happened to Kobe I thought he maybe he could have watched what he said. But the more it keeps happening the more I think they should keep the cameras off. We don’t know what the fan said to Noah to get him yelling. Well I guess time for Stern to step in and take charge.

    (Check my sport blog or click my name)

  2. kyleortonsarm - May 23, 2011 at 1:45 AM

    Who would have figured you couldn’t get away with something like this on live national television. I guess he thinks as well as he plays.

  3. bobulated - May 23, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    I think Noah is a good player and one of the better young big men in the NBA. That being said I wouldn’t be surprised if his fine was heftier than Kobe’s because I imagine there were many warnings about this type of behavior and especially the use of that particular word over the last few weeks. He should expect to write a nice fat check to Da Commish.

  4. bcjim - May 23, 2011 at 6:18 AM

    Insults of any kind are unnecessary but I, frankly would be more upset by the expletive apparently used…esp if kids were present. The “slur”, the third rail status this has been elevated to is a little silly.

  5. henryd3rd - May 23, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    This from a “guy” who wears a ponytail? He should have apologized for that pitiful performance of 1 point and 1 rebound!

    • florida727 - May 23, 2011 at 8:10 AM

      Actually it was 5 rebounds (and 5 assists), but your point is made. He needs to step up or the Bulls chances are toast, if they’re not already anyway.

  6. wakiash - May 23, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Strong talk from a man who wears his hair in a bun.

  7. jd - May 23, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Does anyone really care about this? It’s just media hype about political correctness.

  8. southbeachtalent - May 23, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    I don’t think it’s fair to judge these guys when they’re in the heat of the moment. It was a mistake no big deal. I think the attention this gets is rediculous.

  9. ocgunslinger - May 23, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    This PC is such BS. Who hasn’t said some type of derogatory comment or “slur” in an emotional highly charged moment? It is not like they went to a podium and made a clearly thought out statement with no regard to the consequences. These are instant reactions in a highly competitive moment. Give me a break.

    • florida727 - May 23, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      I’d like to know who the 7 idiots are (so far) that voted this post a ‘thumbs down’. “oc” is exactly right. So is “southbeach”. The attention this crap gets is ridiculous. The only ones offended are the amoral idiots that participate in that type of corrupt anti-social behavior. I refuse to cater to them. They are, thank God, NOT the majority.

      • southbeachtalent - May 23, 2011 at 11:32 AM

        Not to mention the fines these guys have to pay. 100K!? are youe serious. Just plain rediculous.

      • jmessinger - May 23, 2011 at 12:12 PM

        I’m one of the idiots. If it was a white player who called a black fan (or ref) a n—–, do you still think it’d be ridiculous? The point is that people who believe it’s wrong to use epithets based on race and sexual orientation don’t have those at the ready in the “heat of the moment.” Honestly, if it were me, I’d call the fan a “f—–g a$$hole,” because f—-t isn’t in my vocabulary. Having that as your go-to insult itself betrays a certain level of bigotry, the same it would if it the n-word would be used.

        It’s not even a matter of being offended. You don’t hand out fines based on how much your panties get in a bunch. It’s about being respectful to fans and not having employees openly making bigoted comments. But I like that you classify being respectful of other people “corrupt antisocial behavior.” That actually made me laugh out loud.

      • jd - May 23, 2011 at 12:59 PM

        It’s not cursing if someone isn’t offended. Get real.

  10. goldkj - May 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    He should apologize to both gay NBA fans. Maybe poke them on Facebook or like their wall posts or something. You know, make amends.

  11. bigtrav425 - May 23, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    WHO cares…its just words…another case of this country being entirely toooooooooooo politically correct! Disgusting

  12. deathmonkey41 - May 23, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    It was gay of him to apologize.

  13. habibthomas - May 23, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Stop putting cameras on the players!! its a real simple solution since this so much of a social epidemic ….please, cry me a river. its not as if Noah grabbed a microphone and looked in the camera and said” faggot” or at the podium. what said in the huddle/sideline should staff where it is and this lip reading police stuff is stupid and seems like a reach all about nothing. another example of how soft this country is.

  14. rajbais - May 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM


    Can you also apologize for not making shots close to the basket???

  15. dsims7 - May 23, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I have a question, who controls these fans? I have been to 30-50 of these over the years and I here adults yell much worst at the players with kids around them! a few beers does not give fans the right to talk to the players anyway the choose.

    Before you know it, neighbors dog will crap in my and I will yell a 4-letter word at it, then I’m being sued!

  16. mark090910 - May 24, 2011 at 4:46 AM

    Ugh. As a gay guy, I’m very uncomfortable with this. I hate that straight guys are being punished and fined for daring to say the word “faggot”. Most of them probably don’t even intend it to be an anti-gay slur. It’s just a word that people use as an insult. I don’t take it personally at all. Punishing a guy for using that word only makes gays look whiny and hypersensitive.

  17. pepesmith88 - May 24, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    I heard Mark Jackson the other day saying Joakim claims the fan said something real disrespectful to his mother – which then prompted him to say the gay slur.

    If that is true, I believe any person who does not at least retaliate in a war of words with the person who just insulted your mother merits the fine – not the other way around.

    If anything else, Joakim made a weak comeback.

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