MIAMI -- Just weeks after L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 and disciplined for screaming an anti-gay slur at a referee, and just days after the NBA began broadcasting public-service ads condemning such hate speech, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah used the anti-gay "F" word in response to a heckling Heat fan.
The Eastern Conference playoff game in Miami was broadcast nationally on TNT, and its cameras caught the incident on camera.
Noah apologized after the game for his conduct, which he blamed on the heat of the moment. "A fan said something and I said something back. I apologize. I don't know what's going to happen. But I got caught up. I don't mean no disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up," Noah told ESPN.
The hate speech did not sit well with the Human Rights Campaign.
“We need to get to a point where you don't use an anti-gay slur to respond to events,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC president. “It's just plain unacceptable. At a time when the NBA and a growing number of pro-athletes are publicly standing up for equality, it’s too bad Mr. Noah worked against their efforts last night. That said, we’re pleased he quickly realized the error of his ways and apologized.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) also responded today to Noah's anti-gay slur.
"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 has since apologized.
"Noah's apology is a start," Barrios said. "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."
This morning GLAAD reached out to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls to discuss next steps.
Later today, the NBA fined Noah $50,000 for shouting "f**ing f*gg*t" at the fan.
Following the use of an anti-gay slur by Kobe Bryant, GLAAD began a partnership with the Lakers and the NBA. The Lakers sent a message about the use of such slurs through a video that was shown at home games during the Lakers' playoff run. GLAAD is actively working with the NBA to foster a safe environment for all fans, employees and players.