MIAMI — As if the Bulls needed something else to tack on to their poor night, Center Joakim Noah was busted for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan Sunday.
“With the comment to the fan, I just want to apologize about that,” he said. “I just picked up my second foul. I was frustrated. He said something that was disrespectful towards me and I lost my cool. People who know me know I’m an open-minded guy. I’m not here to hurt anybody’s feelings. I’m just here to help win a basketball game.”
The incident in question occurred during the first quarter when TNT camera’s caught Noah shouting an expletive followed by the slur at a fan. Noah says he got “caught up” and expect to “pay the price”.
“I’ve been dealing with that for a long time. Sometimes fans say things that are a little bit overboard, but still it’s on us not to react. If you react, they win. And I did, so it was a bad decision on my part and I’m going to face some pretty severe consequences.”
-Joakim Noah on dealing with heckling
“There will be a fine.” said Noah when asked what the league has said to him. He stated they hadn’t said much in terms of a punishment but rather he assumed what it would be.
Noah’s incident comes not so soon after the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant made a similar slur but directed it at a referee rather than a fan. Bryant was fined $100,000 as punishment by the league.
GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, issued a statement today about the incident.
“Last month the NBA sent an important message about how such slurs fuel a climate of intolerance and are unacceptable,” GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said. “These anti-gay remarks, coming so soon after, demonstrate how much needs to be done. Noah’s apology is a start. We are confident that the NBA will now take disciplinary measures and hasten its work with us to tell all players that there is no place for anti-gay words and attitudes in the game.”
The NBA has yet to officially comment on the incident but a fine is expected. While the league has yet to comment, analysts and journalists are certainly giving their two cents; from the more rational calls for a fine much like Kobe’s to the more extreme like Skip Bayless calling for a suspension.
Either way, the Bulls will move forward from this issue, after all they didn’t lose Game 3 because Noah had a hot head. They lost because he rebounded the ball five times and was a complete non-factor.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has been instrumental in Noah’s leap and bounds improvements this year, feels his big man can bounce back.
“I know the type of guy he is. He’s a high-character guy,” he said. “If he made a mistake he’ll apologize, learn from it, and then hopefully he can move on.”