Fine everyone or no one.
Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert found a $75,000 bill in his locker this past week for “using inappropriate and vulgar language,” according to a statement released by the NBA.
Hibbert used the phrase “no homo” in the post-game press conference of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He used it in a joking manner, but NBA commissioner David Stern didn’t believe it was a laughing matter.
“While Roy has issued an apology, which is no doubt sincere,” said Stern, “a fine is necessary to reinforce that such offensive comments will not be tolerated by the NBA.”
Hibbert also dropped an F-bomb in his post-game rant, but the attention that the aftermath received centered on “no homo,” ESPN repeatedly referring to it as a gay slur.
The league historically lays the hammer down hard against culprits who use language offensive to the LGBT population. It fined Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant $100,000 and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah $50,000 for gay slurs.
The NBA’s track record also shows a clear double standard.
ESPN columnist Jemele Hill questioned why Stern is so quick to pull the trigger on fines for gay slurs, but not the N-word which is frequently used on NBA courts.
Players would draw fines if they use the N-word in a press conference. They wouldn’t if they took the Lord’s name in vain.
Failing to give God’s name the respect it deserves offends countless Christians. Despite that fact, a player could take the Lord’s name in vain an immeasurable amount of times without consequence. One reason why this freedom exists is a lack of fear.
Taking the Lord’s name in vain is now the norm in Western culture. When Houston Astros relief pitcher Paul Emmel apologized post-game to an umpire for taking the Lord’s name in vain in a heated argument, NBC Sports saw it as taboo.
Christians won’t march on Washington over its use. LGBT organizations will.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reacted to both Bryant and Noah’s outbursts. It shouldn’t take being the most outspoken people group to earn the NBA’s respect, but that’s the case.
If Stern desires to fine players for using offensive language, more power to him. Until he eliminates the league’s blatant double standard, however, his actions aren’t classy—they’re cowardly.