Roy Hibbert has apologized. He has been fined. Now, can he and the Indiana Pacers finish off the Miami Heat?
Hibbert will cough up $75,000 for homophobic and vulgar comments he made after the Pacers’ Game 6 victory in the Eastern Conference finals. This isn’t the first time an NBA player has been fined for an anti-gay slur; Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 in 2011 for using a slur toward a referee. (That same year, Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for aiming a slur at a fan during the Eastern finals.)
Hibbert used the words “no homo,” an expression with hip-hop roots, when asked about defending against LeBron James on a play on which James was called for an offensive foul. Hibbert said: “I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back [in Game 3] when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because they stretched me out so much, no homo.”
Hibbert also used an expletive (one fairly frequently used by former Georgetown coach John Thompson) to describe media members who’d underrated him in voting for Defensive Player of the Year, saying, “I’m going to be real with you, and I don’t care if I get fined.”
On Sunday, Hibbert apologized and reached out, via Twitter, to Jason Collins, the NBA free agent who announced in April that he is gay.
“I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night,” Hibbert said through a team spokesman. “They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television. I apologize to those who I have offended, to our fans and to the Pacers’ organization. I sincerely have deep regret over my choice of words last night.”
Hibbert must quickly put the matter behind him, with Game 7 tonight in Miami. This time, unlike in Game 1, his coach is likely to have him in the game at crunch time.
“He obviously made a great mistake,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s very contrite, feels horribly about it. But I talked to him and just basically said we’ve got to move on from it. ‘I know you feel terrible and you want to take words back, but you’ve got to — you issued your statement, and you have to move on from it and get your focus back on Game 7.’ ”
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