Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah were fined for something that happens on every ball court in America, from the streetball courts of New York to the barnyard hoops in Indiana. Calling them homophobic would be like calling a wigger who uses the n-word while listening to hip hop racist.
Neither Kobe nor Joakim knew a single thing about the person they called a “faggot” and their comments were meant as insults not as a way to bash homosexuals per say.
On the basketball court, masculinity is valued. if you are tough, strong, aggressive you are “the man.” If you play timid, passive and weak you are called a “bitch,” a “pussy” a “bitch-ass n***” or a “faggot.”
For many in the world, being gay is the opposite of being masculine. So to call someone gay or a faggot is an insult to their masculinity. In hoops where trash talk and insults are common, and masculinity is valued, insults degrading opponents;, referees’ and fans’ masculinity is common.
If one were to put mics on everyone who played basketball from pee wee leagues to high school, to pick up games to 40 and over games, you would hear the word “faggot” as many times in any game as you would hear in an NBA game. The word is hurled between friends on football fields, playgrounds classrooms and workplaces.
Kobe and Joakim are not guilty of the same homophobia as Tim Hardaway who I said “I Hate Gays” or preachers who say that homosexuality is evil. They are using a word as an insult that has been part of American culture since before they were born, a culture that derides anything gay as “soft” and determines that calling someone gay is a good way to insult them.
Maybe if more NBA players would come out of the closet, basketball players would not connect being gay with being soft or feminine. While using “faggot” is wrong, it seems as young Black NBA players are being scapegoated for an American problem.