The NBA and Homosexuality: Anti-Gay Slurs, Fines and "Think Before You Speak"

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls reacts against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The NBA is currently under fire after a brash of anti-gay slurs were captured on camera. Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for using an anti-gay slur at a fan. Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 dollars for using the same slur at an official.

Shortly after Bryant used the slur, he apologized, and the Lakers announced they were teaming up with GLAAD, (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), to bring attention to the harm anti-gay remarks can cause.

Earlier this Spring, Suns' CEO Rick Welts told the world he was a homosexual. The reception around the league has been very accepting. Welts has received an overwhelming amount of support from around those involved directly with the Suns and otherwise.

His story proves you can be a homosexual and hold a prominent position in the league. The story comes at nearly the same time ESPN broke a story where ex-Villanova's basketball player, Will Sheridan, declared he was gay.

When asked about Kobe's usage of a gay slur, Welts had this to say, "He was just into the game at that point. It's not acceptable, but I consider it another step in having it be part of the conversation. It got of people talking about the use of that slur, people that wouldn't have talked about it. In some ways, it was constructive."

Welts is a representative of someone directly involved in the NBA who can also speak for the homosexual community. If speaking about the matter is constructive, the media is moving mountains.

It's hard to believe that either Noah or Bryant intended to start a media whirlwind. I find it unlikely that they are homophobic or have problems with the gay community.

The slur they said was not in jest. They said it to hurt the recipient. Is it possible then that they were caught up in the moment? Did they choose a word that is considered offensive without thinking of the baggage the word carries, or the hurt that comes with it?

It's quite possible. It seems as though people use these words every day completely out of the context of the situation at hand. How many times do you hear statements like, "that car is gay". Clearly the car isn't a homosexual, but the personification is commonplace.

In walks the NBA, once more. Grant Hill and Jared Dudley join the "Think before you speak" ad campaign and come out with a commercial addressing this very topic.

The commercial encourages people to stop saying phrases like "that's so gay". They encourage people to stop using gay as a substitute for the word stupid.

The NBA is making headlines on both ends of the spectrum here. Maybe players will become more cautious about what they are saying and who they are offending. Maybe fans will follow suit. Perhaps this goes beyond homosexuality and beyond the NBA.