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Joakim Noah’s apology for anti-gay slur seemed sincere

Bulls center Joakim Noah screams after drawing foul first half game five during first round against IndianPacers. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Bulls center Joakim Noah screams after drawing a foul in the first half of game five during the first round against the Indiana Pacers. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 25, 2011 12:32AM

Given his free-spirited, hippie-Renaissance-man persona, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah would seem to be one of the less likely candidates to hurl an anti-gay slur at a fan.

But as we all know by now, Noah exclaimed “F--- you, f-----” to a heckling fan who was getting on Noah after Joakim was called for a foul in Sunday night’s loss.

The TNT cameras caught the slur, an instant mini-controversy ensued, Noah apologized, gay rights groups issued statements, a fine was levied. It was pretty much the same cycle that ensued after Kobe Bryant directed the same slur at a referee just a few weeks ago.

(This was one of those relatively rare times when the public-figure apology seemed sincere. Noah didn’t wait for his PR team to craft a statement. In the locker room after the game, he said to reporters, “I apologize … I got caught up in the moment, and I said some things that I shouldn’t have said. I was frustrated, and I didn’t mean [any] disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up.”)

Bryant and Noah were caught by the cameras. If you think these are the only two times pro athletes have stooped to homophobic slurs in the heat of battle — well, you don’t believe that, do you? Unfortunately, on the field and on the court, and in the locker room, it’s hardly rare for an athlete to rip a fellow competitor (or kiddingly taunt a teammate) by calling him “gay” or using a homophobic slur.

Never acceptable

Is it acceptable to say something or someone is “gay,” as in, “lame”? Of course not. Is it deplorable when pro athletes resort to calling someone a f------, as if that’s the worst thing imaginable? Of course it is.

I’m just wondering what the fan said to Noah.

Again — I’m not excusing Joakim’s remarks, not on any level. But we’ve gotten to the point where the “heckling fan” part of the equation isn’t even discussed. We take it for granted that some fans will harass players with every insult imaginable, fully expecting to be high-fived by their fellow fans if they get a rise out of their target.

I’m not talking about your garden-variety booing, or creative heckling that occasionally will even get the target to chuckle. I’m talking about the nasty stuff you hear at far too many sporting events these days. For every incident in which a Bryant or a Noah calls someone a “f-----,” how many times have fans directed that same slur at athletes on the field of play?

Walk away and listen for the beep

A reader named Chris muses, “There is a behavior I’ve seen with the advent of the remote locking/horn with cars. ... The big move is to walk about 20 feet away and then push the button. They seem to derive some sort of smug satisfaction [from this]...”

That’s a legit observation, and I’ll tell you why: I’m one of those guys.

Never really thought about it until Chris brought it up, but I’m usually a good 10 paces or more away from the car before I lock it up. And of course you never look back when you activate the lock — you just keep walking, the urban equivalent of the action movie star who struts in slow motion and never looks back at the explosion he just ignited.

Is it a guy thing? An ego thing? Why do we wait so long before locking the car?

Or maybe it’s just that we’re doing other stuff. We exit the car, we’re making sure we have our iPhone or Blackberry, then of course we have to check the latest all-important text that just came in — and oh yeah, gotta lock the car.

Either way, I do believe this move is split along gender lines. The woman exiting her vehicle grabs her stuff, locks the car and walks away. The guy exiting the vehicle is 20 feet away before he activates the lock.

Am I right?

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