During Sunday night's telecast of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah appeared to direct profane language, and possibly a gay slur, toward someone seated behind the Bulls bench.
|Homosexuality and the NBA|
Back in April, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was caught on a television broadcast using similar language toward an NBA official and was eventually fined $100,000 by the NBA league office.
The exchange occurred after Noah was whistled for his second foul with more than six minutes remaining in the first quarter. Noah was whistled for an over the back call after attempting to tap in a Carlos Boozer miss. Noah came from behind Heat forward LeBron James to tap the ball near the cylinder and made contact with his body. After briefly arguing the call, Noah headed straight for the Bulls bench and began barking at someone seated behind him and to his right.
Noah then appeared to yell a string of profanities and finished with what appears to be the exact phrase that Bryant was fined for using. The only difference: Noah was not addressing one of the officials.
The Associated Press reported immediately after Game 3 that Noah "is acknowledging saying 'something' toward a fan" and that the NBA "declined immediate comment" on the incident.
Jamey Eisenberg reports for CBSSports.com that Noah issued an apology on Sunday night after Game 3.
"I just got caught up," Noah said after the Heat beat the Bulls 96-85 to take a 2-1 series lead. "I didn't mean any disrespect. ... A fan said something, and I said something back. I apologize."Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Noah expanded a bit at Chicago's Monday morning shootaround.
When asked if he expects to be fined, Noah said, "I don't know what's going to happen."
"Yesterday, I made some comments that were pretty disrespectful. After I picked up my second foul, I said some things. I was pretty upset about it, and I said some things that I shouldn't have said. I didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. It wasn't right, and I'm going to deal with the consequences."Berger also reports that Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Noah was the target of a stream of abuse from an intoxicated fan.
"The guy just kept going. I know the crowd looked at the guy too, like, 'Come on man, leave him alone. It's over.' But the guy just kept going. ... It was the usual, but in that circumstances, it was heavy because he was really loud. And he was a big guy, too. He was intoxicated. When I saw him, I was surprised, because he just kept going and going. Normally a fan may say a couple of things and then sit down. But he just kept going and going, and it was Joakim the whole time."In a video statement released on Bulls.com on Monday, Noah said he was ready to "deal with the consequences."
"Yesterday I made some comments that were pretty disrespectful after I picked up a second foul. I came out of the game and a fan said something to me and I was really upset about it. I said some things I shouldn't have said. I don't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. It wasn't right and I'm going to deal with the consequences. But right now what's really frustrating is that we have a game to worry about and I don't want to be a distraction to the team. I think all of our focus and all of our energy has to be on that right now."Immediately after the incident, NBA analysts and media members took to Twitter to predict that Noah would be fined by the NBA league office. "Because the NBA fined Kobe, you think they'll have to fine Noah," CNBC's Darren Rovell tweeted. "But it's really the luck of the draw whether you're caught on TV."
"No question he said exactly what Kobe said," SI.com's Zach Lowe added. "Get that $100k ready, Joakim."
Here's video of Noah's profanity-laced exchange.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.