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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:46 AM ET, 05/23/2011

Joakim Noah and the homophobic slur during Bulls-Heat game

Joakim Noah offered an explanation and an apology after hurling a homophobic slur at a fan during the Chicago Bulls’ loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night.

Now, he’ll wait to hear from the NBA.

After fouling Chris Bosh and heading to the Bulls’ bench, Noah replied to a heckling fan with the same word that brought a $100,000 fine for Kobe Bryant last month.

“It’s very disappointing. I apologize if I offended anyone,’’ Noah said after throwing a copy of the boxscore into a tub of ice water. He told the Miami Herald he didn’t “even want to think” about the size of the fine he might draw. “I was just caught in the moment. A fan said something that was disrespectful toward me, and I responded. I have to take the consequences like a man. It was just a bad decision on my part.’’

Among other things, Noah’s timining was horrific. The league has begun showing an NBA Cares ad promoting inclusiveness. Last week, Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts said publicly that he is gay, a disclosure that prompted praise and drew support. “First of all, every player has played with gay guys,” Charles Barkley told Mike Wise, in an interview on his 106.7 radio show. “It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”

Steve Nash, like the New York Rangers’ Sean Avery before him, filmed an ad supporting equal-marriage rights in New York. “Anyone who’s not ready for this needs to catch up,” Nash said of Welts. “He’s doing anyone who’s not ready for this a favor.”

And then that word is captured again on national television.

“It's about words,” Hill told NPR’s Scott Simon. “You know, the most important thing is these words have meaning. And gay is not a bad word, but if you use it, you know, in a way that promotes negativity, then it is. ”

Does Noah deserve a fine equal to the one given Bryant?

By  |  11:46 AM ET, 05/23/2011

 
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