Just one month after the NBA became the first professional sports organization to have an openly gay player, it had to fine another player $75,000 for using a gay slur and a profanity in a post-game news conference.
Roy Hibbert ended a response to a question about his defense on Miami Heat star LeBron James with “No homo.” The NBA responded less than 24 hours later announcing that the player was fined for “using inappropriate and vulgar language.”
The fine was handed down after Hibbert issued an apology June 2, saying he has “deep regret over my choice of words.”
“I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night,” Hibbert said in the statement released by the Indiana Pacers. “They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television. I apologize to those who I have offended, to our fans and to the Pacers’ organization.”
Just a month ago, Jason Collins became the first active NBA player to come out of the closet, sparking a stream of supportive messages around the blogosphere and in the media. That makes the use of a gay slur by another NBA player that much more surprising.
“While Roy has issued an apology, which is no doubt sincere, a fine is necessary to reinforce that such offensive comments will not be tolerated by the NBA,” said NBA commissioner David Stern.
Earlier June 2, Hibbert reached out to Collins via Twitter.
“Hey can I get a follow,” Hibbert’s tweet read. “Would like to discuss something’s with you.”
Athlete Ally, an activist organization working to end homophobia in sports, addressed Hibbert’s comments in a statement released the same day.
“We are disappointed by Hibbert’s comments, as that kind of language is disrespectful, has no place in sports and is antithetical to the NBA’s policies,” the statement said. “As an official partner of the NBA and NBPA, Athlete Ally works closely with the league on delivering trainings and workshops to educate players about LGBT inclusion and respect. The league is undoubtedly a leader in this area, and Roy’s statement of apology clearly recognizes the harms of his comments.
“We are confident that NBA will do its part to rectify the issue to the extent it can, comprehensively educate Hibbert, who seems genuinely apologetic, and make sure that these kinds of comments are soon a thing of the past.”
During Saturday’s late-night news conference, Hibbert also cursed in reference to the media when asked why he finished so low (10th) in voting for Defensive Player of the Year.
“Y’all mother fuckers don’t watch us play throughout the year to tell you the truth,” Hibbert said. “So that’s fine. I’m going to be real with you, and I don’t care if I get fined. We play and we’re not on TV all of the time and reporters are the ones that are voting and it is what it is. And I don’t make it, that’s fine. I’m still going to do what I have to do.”