Posted June 02, 2013

NBA fines Pacers’ Roy Hibbert $75,000 for ‘inappropriate and vulgar language’

2013 NBA playoffs, Ben Golliver, David Stern, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert (left) has issued an apology for comments made after a Game 6 win. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

Roy Hibbert (left) has been fined for comments he made after a Game 6 win. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

The NBA announced Sunday that Roy Hibbert has been fined $75,000 for using “inappropriate and vulgar language” during a televised post-game press conference following Indiana’s 91-77 victory over Miami in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday.

Hibbert used a homophobic slang term in describing his defense on Heat forward LeBron James and used a profanity in reference to media members as he responded to a question about his placement on this year’s Defensive Player of the Year voting. The Pacers’ center issued an apology for his comments earlier Sunday.

“I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night,” Hibbert said, in a statement released by the 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. I sincerely have deep regret over my choice of words last night.”

NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement that the comments warranted a sanction, despite Hibbert’s remorse.

“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,” Stern said.

Asked about his defense during a crucial fourth-quarter play that ended with James being called for an offensive foul and a technical foul, Hibbert explained that he was attempting to do a better job of helping Paul George defend the 2013 MVP.

“The momentum could have shifted right there if [James] got an easy dunk,” Hibbert said. “There was what ‑‑ was it Game 3 here? I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because they stretched me out so much. No homo.”

That two-word phrase was popularized by rappers who, according to Slate, used it to “rid [statements] of possible homosexual double-entendre” and, generally speaking, to “acknowledge and distance themselves” from homosexuals.

Asked about why he finished 10th in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, Hibbert responded that the media members who vote for the award weren’t paying sufficient attention to his small-market team.

“You know what, because y’all m—–f—— don’t watch us play throughout the year, to tell you the truth,” Hibbert said. “That’s fine. I’m going to be real with you. And I don’t care if I get fined. You know what, we play, we’re not on TV all the time. Reporters are the ones that are voting. And it is what it is. If I don’t make it, that’s fine. I’m still going to do what I have to do.”

By comparison, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using a gay slur that was caught on a national television broadcast in 2011.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Associated Press that he immediately addressed the comments with Hibbert.

“It’s simple, I support him,” Vogel said. “I know he’s not that person and that it was a mistake. He knows he’s wrong. I didn’t have to tell him that and we all love and support him. Obviously, he made a great mistake. He feels horribly about it. I told him, basically, that we’ve got to move on from it.”

Athlete Ally, an organization that works to end homophobia, transphobia and anti-LGBT bullying in sports, issued a statement Sunday, asserting that Hibbert’s words showed a “lack of awareness” and were “harmful to youth.”

“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 organization’s statement read. “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 the 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.”

In April, Wizards free-agent center Jason Collins became the first active openly gay male athlete in the four major American sports leagues by revealing his sexuality in an essay for Sports Illustrated.

“I have no problem with openly gay men,” Hibbert said at the time, according to the Journal Courier. “More power to them. We live in a day in age where people are more accepting as opposed to years ago. [Collins] and his family may have some adversity in the coming days and weeks, but I have no problem with it.”

The NBA has long prided itself on tolerance towards minority groups.

“We have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” Stern said in a statement after Collins’ announcement. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Hibbert finished with 24 points (on 11-for-20 shooting) and 11 rebounds in Game 6.

The Heat and Pacers are now tied at three games apiece. Game 7 is Monday in Miami.

33 comments
Holden
Holden

This story will undoubtedly make the cover of Sports Illustrated, as promoting gay is it's prime directive, these days.  Who cares if one can play?..ho-hum...now, if a mediocre player of whom hardly anybody has heard tells somebody about his sexual proclivities...well, THAT is front page news!!

When I was a kid, we worried about our favorite players' stats, not whether or not they took it in their hineys.  Between diversity programs in elementary schools, activist teachers who think that sort of thing eclipses the three Rs, and the TV networks cramming it down their throats, we're going to have a generation of weenies just waiting until they're old enough to get on the Dole.

GET THIS CRAP OUT OF THE NEWS!!!!!

Jules de la Zazette
Jules de la Zazette

Reminds me of the gay football player who started his career as a tight end and retired as a wide receiver. 

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

You think maybe he was auditioning for a post as College President? Or Athletic Director?

XgayGreg
XgayGreg

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Our radio show is titled: "NATIONAL STRAIGHT AND NARROW MONTH!"

John NoLastName
John NoLastName

The NBA has a right to be concerned about the image it projects, just as any business or organization does. So it establishes rules about the things you can say when you're in an official capacity. The fact that these things may or may not be offensive to the posters on this forum does not matter.

But if you're employed by that organization and you've got half a brain, you will pay attention to those rules or you pay. Not hard to understand.

John Smith1
John Smith1

So where are the fines on Queen Lebron for flopping?



yonse
yonse

Gotta give him a break on this one. Get off it and quit being so sensitive. My gay friends would not give a dam what he said, they'd be laughing. When we're really brothers under the skin, we can laugh at these things. 

nubiantimes
nubiantimes

I will never purchase another NBA game. 

Jsal
Jsal

Hibbert seems like a really nice kid.  I'm convinced he is not homophobic and was just using street slang to try and make a point.  Big Mistake.   I hope the fallout doesn't affect his play tonight but as he seems like a pretty sensitive guy I think it will.  Too bad.


doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

The fine means nothing. So what if he cussed during the interview, but I will admit he should have known better for the gay slur and that everyone would go ape over it. However, why the need to apologize to Collins? What, so everyone in the NBA who has a slip of the tongue about gays has to automatically apologize to him? If he plays anywhere next season, he WILL get some teasing thrown his way, and the NBA can't catch everyone and fine them. What if no teams sign Collins? What would that tell you? Maybe teams won't be as accepting as the powers-that-be think. 

muser
muser

Idiotic fines like this just make normal people even less tolerant of what is already a disgusting behavior. 

JackWendland
JackWendland

It's no different than a "That's what she said" joke.  Funny, but, given the overtly sexual nature of the joke, not appropriate for a post-game, NBA interview.  (Side note: SI, can you make it any more difficult to comment on your articles? Let's foment some conversation)

Mag533
Mag533

Gutless, politically or I mean perv politically correct actions against a guy who exercised his 1st amendment rights.

DoubleFish
DoubleFish

Hibbert's first "offense" was actually FUNNY!!  It's a reference to pop culture, and not offensive at all.  Seriously, if the LGBT community wants "equality", then it needs to just grow up and accept the occasional jokes and jabs just like ANY other group. Be it Asian, Black, Women, Gingers, or whatever group!!

6marK6
6marK6

Why is he apologizing to Collins? That makes no sense.

Macheen
Macheen

@John Smith1 

Flopping does a lot more to damage the image of the NBA and the integrity of the game than a slip of the tongue during a post game interview. Especially when intentional trickery to gain advantage is done by the consensus top player of the NBA with the championship at stake. $75,000 to $0? Give me a break!

Jules de la Zazette
Jules de la Zazette

@Jsal If the fallout from this tempest in a friggin teapot affects his play, then he's a real poosy.  This is all so much ado about absolutely nothing, and a reference to rap slang -- damn country is so PC it makes me puke. 


coolerthanyou4
coolerthanyou4

@Mag533 that has nothing to do with his 1st amendment rights, freedom of speech. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you can say anything about anybody at anytime. Freedom of speech has to do with your right to speak out against the government and not be prosecuted. This is a totally different thing; and besides, in pro sports, you don't get to say just anything w/o consequences.

101flyboy
101flyboy

@DoubleFish No, we won't accept being disrespected and equality is not conditional. Thanks for playing.

M20
M20

@6marK6 Where did he apologize to Collins?

John NoLastName
John NoLastName

@coolerthanyou4 @Mag533 Exactly! And you just know that people who whine endlessly about "politically correct" would change their tune in a hurry if the remarks were about *them*.

LeroyGameEaston
LeroyGameEaston

@101flyboy @DoubleFish How vocal amd proactive have YOU been supporting and fighting against racism and the billions of racial slurs coming out of people's mouths on a daily basis? You're protecting your won agenda and you have no backbone. You all are in the whiniest in history. This fine is 100% ridiculous.

DoubleFish
DoubleFish

@101flyboy @DoubleFish With all due respect, aren't you over-reacting?  For crying out loud, I'm Asian, and my last name is "Wang".  I am tough enough to NOT allow those snickering at my family name to bother me or to put me down. I'm strong and I'm absolutely proud of who I am.  

Seriously, EVERY group gets teased or joked about from time to time.  Why give others power by flipping out and reacting so strongly about it?  Learn to just brush it off and laugh about it too, so people would soon realize that whatever they say will have absolutely NO POWER over you.

Going crazy and over-react?  Yeah, that's telling people that they DO have power over you.

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

@DoubleFish @101flyboy I'm black, and my closest non-black friends and I make off-color jokes to each other all the time. There are some boundaries, but in general you have to laugh them off. PC is becoming the death of society, and no one can take a dang joke anymore.