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Chris Bosh says if NBA wants to ban slurs on court it has to ban them all

Feb 27, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

Detroit at Miami Getty Images

I’m not sure how you can really regulate “smack talk” on basketball court or a football field or any other sporting venue. It’s not that lines of basic human decency are not crossed verbally all the time — they are — and when that happens there should be something for referees to fall back on as a tool/penalty. However, once you ask the referees to step in on this issue it creates a new web of enforcement problems — where is the line drawn and how can referees in a loud stadium always be sure what they thought they heard was actually said?

The NFL is discussing imposing a new 15-yard penalty for racial slurs uttered on the field. It may not be approved in that form — PFT’s Michael David Smith suggested to me the NFL might just expand the existing taunting rules and have officials watch for flagrant cases — but it has certainly created conversation around the issue.

Should the NBA follow down the NFL’s path?

Miami’s Chris Bosh said you can’t just ban “the N-word” or one kind of slur, you need to ban them all. He spoke with the Palm Beach Post about it.

“I’m OK with penalties, but then it gets tricky,” he said. “What if I say this? There’s a bunch of things I could say and not get a penalty. If you’re gonna bring one thing in, you gotta put them all in the hat. That’ll work out a lot better.”

Would it really work out better? Should lawyers in suits in the Manhattan league offices be deciding what can and can’t be said on a court?

Shane Battier likes the general idea of assessing a penalty for slurs, but understands it is in the application of the law things get tricky.

“The arena of professional sports is highly, highly, highly emotional,” he said. There are a lot of things I’m ashamed I said, but I probably can’t say them in this interview. At the same time, we are a league that is in the public view and we sell ourselves as a family entertainment business. There are a lot of kids, and whether we like it or not, we are role models for millions of kids out there. To at least address the issue is responsible by the league….

“All of the sudden you’re asking our referees to be grammar judges when reffing an NBA basketball game is hard enough,” he said. “Ask any of them.”

Well, if referees handed out foul shots for incorrect grammar on the court NBA games would be six hours long. They could then come in the media work room and call fouls on a few of us, too.

In an image-conscious league you can bet this is something that will be discussed at the NBA offices. Compared to a huge NFL field, the NBA court is small and some fans sit courtside — pretty much everything said out there can be heard. Or picked up by courtside microphones. Maybe it’s something the league should ask its referees to look at.

But you can be sure the referees don’t want to wade into that water. They have enough on their plate.

  1. sportsfan18 - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    I made this comment several days ago on the football articles when the NFL came out and said they are thinking about this and I got skewered.

    They say the want to penalize racial slurs, but then say only the N word.

    Now, I’m NOT for ever saying these things in my life or in the NFL. I’m just using them for this response, not in an inappropriate way.

    OK, imagine if a white player were to call a black player a “jiggaboo”? The rules in the NFL are written down, in a rule book. Since they are written down, they will have to specify which racial slurs will cause a penalty.

    If they say all racial slurs will cause a penalty then they don’t need to try and list them all. But if they do list some and not others, then the ones not listed may be said without incurring a penalty.

    What if a white player calls a black player a “nigglet”? What about calling them a “porch monkey”?

    OK, enough examples as I think you all get my point.

    It can’t just be the “N” word that only draws a penalty. So it needs to be all racial slurs or none…

    There are no Japanese players in the NFL now, but what if a player were to call one a “Jap”?

    What if a white player called another white player a “Jap” even if he wasn’t Japanese? It is STILL a racial slur.

    To me, it’s a slippery slope unless they ban ALL racial slurs…

    I mean, imagine if the U.S. allowed equal rights in all ways to black people but NOT to Indians or Mexicans etc…?

    That is what only punishing the use of the “N” would be doing.

    Same for the NBA. Chris Bosh is exactly right.

    • miamatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      You are largely correct, but I would add just one thing: the majority of players using the “N word” on the court (or field) are black. How many white players -even if they wanted to- would use the N-word in a game? They have to go back to the huddle or sit on the bench with their mostly black teammates afterwards.

      So while banning the N-word, on the surface, appears to be for the defense of african-americans, reality is that it would disproportionally penalize black players if put into practice.

      Bosh is correct- IF you ban one slur, you have to ban them all.

      For my money, though, the refs have a tough enough time as is, and adding this to their plate strikes me as an unreasonable distraction. If anything, the league office can review the tape and fine players in excessive cases. This is really just a PR move, and not a particularly practical one.

      • azarkhan - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        “…reality is that it would disproportionally penalize black players if put into practice”

        OMG, another idiot Democrat apologist for blacks. LOL

      • miamatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        @azarkan: For the record, I register as an indepent.

        Also, I’d love to hear an actual counterpoint to the statement you took offense to.

        Then again, I suspect a fair and rational debate is precisely the sort of thing you’d like to avoid.

      • chitownmatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        The “banning of the n-word” is not at all about defense of the african americans.

        It is about the NBA trying to disassociate itself from the “thug” lifestyle and image.

        So, yes it is absolutely directed toward black players calling each other the n-word.

        Kids don’t need to hear that and they shouldn’t, certainly not from a professional adult that makes a very decent living.

      • RavenzGunnerz - Feb 27, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        To me, things like “Bostrish” should not be tolerated. Kudo to Bosh standing up for his species.

    • sumkat - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      “Jap” isn’t a racial slur, it’s short for Japanese.

      “Nip” or “Slant” would be a racial slur.

      This is the exact reason this whole idea is idiotic.

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Wrong. Ask a Japanese person if they want to be called “Jap” for short. It was a derogetory word when used in World War II (If I’m not mistaken on my history) and it’s still derogetory today.

      • sumkat - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Ask anyone if they want to be called “moron”, it doesn’t make it a racial slur

        Japanese are not their own race. They are Asian, just like China, N/S Korea, Viet Namn and a host of other countries. Calling them “Japs” was no different than calling Germans “Jerries” or calling English “Tommies”

        Stop whining with your over sensitive liberal BS

      • mackcarrington - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        Calling Japanese “Japs” is an ETHNIC slur.
        Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese are all Asians, yes. But they are different ethnicities.
        None of them like to be lumped in or confused with the others.
        The Scottish and the English are the same race, but they are different ethnicities also.
        Scots don’t like to be confused with the English and vice versa.

      • sumkat - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        No, it’s not. As was stated below, it’s what their soldiers were called during WW2 (just like ours were Joe’s). Is it an “ethnic slur” to call someone from Saudi Arabia a “Saudi”? No, it’s not, but that’s not what they are. If you ask them, they are “Saudi Arabian”, but somehow that’s not a “ethnic slur”

        Using your logic (which is flawed), it no different than calling an Italian a dego, or an Irish a mick. Guess what, nobody cries about those either

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 27, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        smh. World War II wasn’t THAT long ago, was it?

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 27, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        I’m disappointed in you, sumkat. First of all, you need to educate yourself on the definition of the word Race, but I’m gonna do that for you: Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation. With that said, the Japanese are a race unto themselves. And what does my political point of view (Liberal) have anything to do with my opinion that we should treat people as we would want to be treated? I think the Golden Rule goes well beyond political choice. By the way, I’m Italian and if you called me a Wop or a Dago to my face, I’d beat you like your mother should have. How’s that for over sensitive?

  2. mrlaloosh - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:30 PM


  3. 00maltliquor - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    How about we ban sensitivity. Bunch of Pusses in Boots out here nowadays.
    Trash talk is and always will be a part of bball. From the streets to the big leagues.

    • shanelsweet - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      You can trash talk without cursing or using slurs. For example, I could say that your wife tastes like Raisin Bran cereal, and you could reply that I have a small penis. Point being, folks will figure out a way to still trash talk. Let’s clean up the language for the kids.

    • miamatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      Your comment hurt my feelings. I request that PBT fine and suspend @00matliquor. I will also be suing NBC for inflicting great pain and suffering on me by allowing such comments to be posted in a public forum.

      • 00maltliquor - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM


      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 27, 2014 at 11:35 PM

        I agree. I am offended too. Class action lawsuit?

  4. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    Kind of Ironic. You have to ban black people from calling themselves a word that was seen as the most vile words in the human vocabulary when said against them. I guess we do not realize how many times it is said on the court.

  5. spillz121 - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Who said the language being used on the court or the girls for that matter was an issue. As a fan, I have never even thought about it. We’ve all played sports, we know what’s said out there. The world is becoming way too politically correct these days. And it’s true that the n-word is almost totally being used by blacks speaking to other blacks who do not take it as a racial slur, so what would be the point. The NBA has issues, this isn’t one of them. How bout u put the best 16 teams in the playoffs instead of this outdated east/west nonsense.

    • unxpexted1 - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      or stop letting sixteen teams even be in the playoffs.

  6. katra2logic - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Trash talk is the opposite of being a good sport. Play hard and keep your mouth shut is the best solution possible.

    BTW: A good first step would be to get the college coaches to shut up. The college players mostly keep it together but the guys in the suits on the sidelines act like two year old children throwing a tantrum. Step two would be to get the NBA coaches to shut up and act like adults. Step 3 is easy as now good examples are being set and soon most will be a good sport, play the game hard and keep their mouths shut.

  7. azarkhan - Feb 27, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    @miamatt, If a certain behavior is wrong, it’s wrong, period. It shouldn’t matter if a particular racial group is disproportionately affected. You sound like that racist fool Eric Holder who on Jan 8 ordered schools to stop zero tolerance policies because he believes blacks are disproportionately affected. In other words, the same old whine that we have been hearing forever from race-baiting, racially divisive Democrats. Personally, I think schools can be overzealous. But to base an objection solely on race and to threaten school districts with civil rights violations is sick.

    BTW, I couldn’t care less that you are registered as an Independent. Pat yourself on the back. It’s your mind that is screwed up, and that won’t change regardless of your voter registration.

    • miamatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Thanks for the gutless judgement of me and a completely off-topic retort.

      My point was that banning the n-word alone would disproportionately penalize blacks, which, one would think, would be the OPPOSITE of such a rule’s intent.

      I don’t think the NBA should wade into these waters at all, but either all slurs or no slurs have to be banned.

      And if you don’t believe that certain laws are applied disproportionally, and in a way that was not (or perhaps was?) intended, you are the one who needs to wake up and smell the coffee. I am not even talking AT ALL about that school case you brought up. But, uncomfortable as it can be for some of us to admit, racism does still exist in this nation, and the same rules of justice do not always apply for different racial groups.

      By the way, before you accuse me of being a bigot again, let me tell you that I’m white as snow. But then again, I guess that just makes me “even more screwed up” in your view.

      • azarkhan - Feb 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        I never doubted that you are “white as snow”. The biggest fools in the country are white progressives.

        “My point was that banning the n-word alone would disproportionately penalize blacks…” Duh, that was obvious in your first comment. My point is…so what? If it is wrong to use a racial slur then it should be banned, regardless of who is using it or what color they are.

        And racism does indeed exist, especially in the black community.

        It’s amusing that in your first comment you basically said I would be too cowardly to reply. Then when I do reply, you call the comment “gutless and completely off-topic”. Off-topic? How is your position different from Eric Holders?

        And I do believe that “certain laws are applied disproportionally”. For example, hate crimes are mostly charged against whites, but rarely against blacks, even though blacks commit far more crimes against whites than vice versa.

        Sorry, I live in the real world, not in the imaginary white progressive world.

      • casualcommenter - Feb 27, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Miamatt, it’s pretty clear azarkhan understood no more than 1/4 of your original comment.

        He just noticed you used the phrase, “disproportionately affect blacks” which triggered an off-topic rant by him about how whites are the real victims of discrimination by the government and society, yada yada yada.

        There was absolutely nothing controversial about your comment (hence the 20 thumbs up), and it’s probably not productive to engage in an online debate with a person with highly questionable reading comprehension.

        He’ll probably just interpret your latest comment as an argument in favor of Obamacare, even though you didn’t mention that law at all, lol.

      • miamatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 7:02 PM

        Good call, @casualcommenter. Yours might have been the most reasonable comment of all.

  8. chitownmatt - Feb 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    I don’t understand what we are even talking about.

    Unsportmanlike conduct is already against the rules and it includes profanity.

    Taunting also has it’s very own line in the rulebook.

    It is and always has been upto the refs to decide what crosses that line.

  9. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 27, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    So are the refs going to be learning Spanish/French/Russian/every other human language? Lotsa bad words in those foreign languages.
    What about non-traditional slurs? It’s easy enough to make one up, a word/phrase that’s obviously a slur, yet not officially recognized as such.

  10. jeff6381 - Feb 27, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    I think this ban is more for the gay players coming in the league the NFL all of a sudden care about slurs now that there is an openly gay player coming in the league. The n word has always been used and they never had an issue with it but if players called Michael Sam on the field a gay slur it would be a huge issue thats why now they are concerned about slurs.

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