Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined US$50,000 on Monday for yelling an insulting remark, believed to be a gay slur, at a spectator in Miami during his team’s NBA playoff loss on Sunday night.
Television cameras showed Noah appearing to say “faggot” after sitting down on the bench just 5 minutes, 34 seconds into the opening quarter of Miami’s 96-85 triumph.
“I apologize,” Noah said. “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.”
The fine imposed by the NBA was half the amount imposed on Los Angeles Lakers playmaker Kobe Bryant for saying the same thing to referee Ben Adams during a game.
A league spokesman said the higher amount of Bryant’s fine came because he was verbally abusive to an NBA game official.
Noah met with NBA officials on Monday before he was fined for his remark to the Heat supporter.
“The fan said something that was disrespectful toward me and I went back at him,” Noah said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not like that. I’m an open-minded guy. I said the wrong thing and I’m going to pay the consequences — deal with the consequences — like a man. I don’t want to be a distraction to the team right now.”