TAG | Phoenix Suns
Only in this wild year for gay news in the sports world (Outsports has reported 27 coming out stories already!) would we have three noteworthy events, all from the NBA, in a single day.
First, the bad.
Last night, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah lashed out at a heckling fan, video below, with a slew of expletives and the same antigay slur that Kobe yelled out just over a month ago.
He then offered this “apology”:
“I got caught up. A fan said something and I said something back. I apologize.”
When asked if he would expect to be fined—Kobe was fined $100,000 for the same slur directed at a referee—Noah responded, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but, you know, I got caught up. I don’t mean no disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up.”
[EDIT:] Noah offered these additional remarks today, saying basically the same thing: “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.”
I’m really getting tired of the “I just got caught up in the moment” and “I meant no disrespect” excuse in these apologies. Pick a different word, or don’t say anything at all. It’s as simple as that.
Thankfully, there is more good than bad these days.
Just a couple hours after Noah’s outburst, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard tweeted: “Heyy world plz check out this new ad featuring @JaredDudley619 and @realgranthill33 with @GLSEN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-kwMPVqad4”
That ad, of course, is the video with Phoenix Suns Grant Hill and Jared Dudley promoting the ThinkB4YouSpeak campaign to stop the casual use of the word “gay” to mean something negative.
The ad has already aired during the NBA playoffs at least 4 times (by my count) and for Howard to pass it on to his over TWO MILLION followers is phenomenal.
Lastly, also from the Phoenix Suns, Steve Nash has joined the fight for marriage equality in New York. He offered this message with HRC:
“Hi, I’m Steve Nash. I spend my summers in New York, and I love playing in the Garden. A growing number of professional athletes are speaking out in support of gay and lesbian couples getting married. I’m proud to be one of them. Join me, and the supermajority of New Yorkers who support marriage equality.”
With an openly gay President and CEO, Rick Welts, and three allies on the team, I think it’d be safe for a gay player on the Phoenix Suns to come out. One team at a time until that brave player is ready.
Just a few hours before the now infamous Kobe Bryant “f**king f**got” game, Phoenix Sun stars Grant Hill and Jared Dudley were recording a public service announcement for the Think Before You Speak campaign.
The campaign is a joint project from GLSEN, the Ad Council, and the NBA to address homophobic speech. The campaign recognizes that phrases and terms like “so gay” and “fag” have become commonplace in everyday speech, and while most do not mean to use them with homophobic intentions, it needs to stop.
In a quick behind-the-scenes interview, Grant Hill states: “Words have consequences.” He continues, “We have to be careful with the things that we say and be sensitive to others.”
Jared Dudley had an excellent remark on why it is so important for the NBA and star athletes to take a stand on this issue: “I think it’s critical to start the standard for people that are in kindergarten and first and second grade. It starts with the NBA, because a lot of these people look up to these stars, these role models, and kids who want to be you. And if they see how you’re acting towards this, it definitely will sway a lot of people.”
The PSA is scheduled to run during the NBA Finals. (Though I don’t know if it will actually air on the channels the games are being broadcast. But wouldn’t that be amazing?!)
[UPDATE:] Here are two additional news stories talking about this: ABC 15 in Phoenix and Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN in Huffington Post.