Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah has said that he believes his $50,000 fine for making a gay slur toward a heckling fan during a Sunday night game is “fair” and that he now hopes to move on from the incident.
“I made a mistake. I’ll learn from it and move on.”
During the match, which saw Noah’s team Chicago Bulls facing a 96-85 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Noah, on the bench after a second foul, was caught on camera turning to a heckler in the audience and saying “F**k you, f**got.”
Within hours, Noah issued a statement apologizing for the slur, saying “The fan said something to me that I thought was disrespectful, and I got caught up in the moment, and I said some things that I shouldn’t have said. I was frustrated and I don’t mean no disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up.”
At the time, Noah said he fully expected to be fined for the comment.
Monday saw the NBA hand Noah a $50,000 fine for the incident. This is half of the $100,000 Kobe Bryant was fined earlier this year for a gay slur directed at a match official.
With reference to this, Noah told the Chicago Sun-Times: “I didn’t really know what my fine would be. I was just ready to face the consequences and move on and get ready for this game. I don’t want to be a distraction to this team.”
Gay rights group GLAAD praised Joakim Noah for his near-immediate apology and also the fact that the NBA took such swift action, writing on the GLAAD blog, “We are at a different place in time here than we were even a year or two ago. The NBA is actively promoting a message of acceptance and inclusion – not because incidents like these are bad PR, but because that’s simply what the game stands for.”
Unlike Joakim Noah, Kobe Bryant is currently appealing his fine, with $100,000 being the most ever levied by the NBA for a homophobic remark.