May 23, 2011
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah(notes) shouted a homophobic slur at a heckling fan on Sunday night (the video can be seen here), mainly because he decided he was going to act like an unmitigated idiot in that particular situation. There's no way around that level of in-the-moment stupidity. He's since "apologized" for saying, in his words, "something," but does he not really understand that contrition better come a little stronger than that, these days?
"I got caught up," Noah said. "I don't mean no disrespect to anybody."
"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."
Noah awaits punishment after he and NBA officials met over the slur.
Joakim, did you not think, as TNT swathes all of American Airlines Arena in klieg lights and expensive cameras, that national TV wouldn't have a camera on as you stormed to the bench?
Did you think, as someone who grew up in Hell's Kitchen, living in 2011, in the wake of what Kobe Bryant(notes) did at about the same exact spot at Staples Center last month, that this stuff is still passable?
Because it's not. And we're starting to hold athletes who say things like "**** you, ******!" to standards that rank, I don't know, a small step higher than the sort of vitriol and cursing that some troglodyte would spit Jackie Robinson's way back in 1947? Because it's the same thing, Joakim Noah. You're no different than that guy, spewing nonsense just because he's caught up in a sports game.
But, I know, like it was with Kobe, that it was because you were angry. Because that fan likely called you worse. Twice. After you picked up your second foul.
Don't care. Don't care, guy who is actually my favorite player. It was stupid and thoughtless and wrong and that word hurts people. That word reminds people of times and events in their lives that they shouldn't have to reflect upon during a basketball game, or while checking their Twitter feed, or while reading this website.
So do what's right, don't hedge your apology, and use this as a chance to learn, and eventually to teach. As it was with Kobe, I really don't think the NBA should fine you for this, but I also know you have to make this right. Get going, Joakim.
UPDATE: Noah has been fined 50,000 dollars by the NBA for the outburst.
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