Noah fined $50,000 for derogatory and offensive term

"I lost my cool," said Noah of a Game 3 incident. "People who know me know I’m an open-minded guy. I’m not here to hurt anybody’s feelings; I’m just here to help win a basketball game."

Update: Noah has been fined $50,000 for using a derogatory and offensive term from the bench during the first quarter of the Bulls’ 96-85 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

By Adam Fluck | 05.23.2011

It was a tough night at the office for Joakim Noah and the Bulls on Sunday, falling in Game 3 to the Heat in Miami and now trailing 2-1 in their best of seven games Eastern Conference Finals.

But to make matters worse, Noah made a disparaging homophobic comment to a fan during the first quarter which was caught on the broadcast.

On Monday, Noah apologized for his actions and said he had heard from the NBA league office, which informed him that a fine would be forthcoming.

“The comment to the fan, I just want to apologize about that,” Noah said at the team’s hotel in downtown Miami. “I had just picked up my second foul and I was frustrated. He said something that was disrespectful towards me and I lost my cool. People who know me know I’m an open-minded guy. I’m not here to hurt anybody’s feelings; I’m just here to help win a basketball game.”

Dealing with the ire of opposing fans is nothing new for Noah, which, in part, is what makes it so surprising that he reacted in the way he did Sunday.

“I’ve been dealing with that for a long time,” Noah said of hearing it from the fans. “But still, it’s on us not to react. If you react, they win. And I did. It was a bad decision on my part and I’m going to face some pretty severe consequences.”

Given the way the NBA handled a similar situation involving Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, they could be severe indeed. Bryant was fined $100,000 and received harsh criticism from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Noah said he didn’t realize that the incident became a story until after the game when someone brought it up to him. But his apology seemed sincere and he vowed to learn from it.

“I’ll remember it for a long time,” said Noah.

In the meantime, Noah and the Bulls have other concerns after losing for the second straight game, the first time that has occurred since early February. Noah acknowledged that getting the offense going is a must if Chicago wants to avoid its first three game skid of the season.

“Make some shots, get to the paint, be more aggressive going to the basket,” said Noah of what it will take. “We’re getting a lot of shots at the basket, a lot more than they are. The games are really close, but there are definitely some mental breakdowns and things that we need to clean up.”

Despite the last two defeats, Noah and his teammates stressed that their confidence remains high. And ultimately, a win in Game 4 would dramatically change the direction of the series.

“Thibs always talks about walking through the fire together,” said Noah. “That’s what it’s all about. We win Game 1 and get a lot of love after the game. We lose two and it’s like the end of the world. But if we can get this one on Tuesday and tie it up going home, that’d be a good position to be in.”

The Bulls did not practice Monday, but met as a team for a film session. And surely, keeping the focus on the task at hand—something that Thibodeau has repeatedly stressed all season long—was discussed. For Noah, he’s looking to do just that while putting Game 3 and the incident behind him.

“That’s what is disappointing about the whole thing,” said Noah. “I don’t want to be a distraction to the team and I apologized for what I said. It wasn’t right and I don’t want to disrespect anybody. That’s not what I’m about. I just got caught up in something a fan said and went back at him. I’m going to face the consequences like a man.”


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