By Michael Parente
Before we go any further, no, I’m not a racist or a homophobe – I have gay friends, black friends and gay, black friends – and, yes, I fully understand why trillion-dollar corporations such as the NBA would prefer it if their employees didn’t crack juvenile schoolyard gay jokes on national television. I get it; it’s a bad look.
Yet in the aftermath of the Roy Hibbert incident (in his post-game press conference following Indiana’s Game 6 win Saturday over Miami, Hibbert blurted out the phrase “no homo,” which, in pop culture, has become a whimsical method of correcting ones self after saying something that might sound, for lack of a better term, gay) I find myself wondering exactly when and why America went soft – no homo.
Hibbert’s timing sucked, especially when you consider it’s only been a month since Jason Collins came out of the closet as the NBA’s first active gay athlete, drumming up an equal share of support and criticism. The last thing NBA commissioner David Stern needs in the aftermath of all the good will surrounding the Collins story is to have a prominent player on the game’s biggest stage use a term that is essentially one’s way of clearing the air regarding their own sexuality, as if it’s a bad thing to be mistaken for a homosexual. In the “real world,” you couldn’t walk into an important board meeting in front of potential investors and yell, “These spreadsheets are a pain in my ass – no homo!” and get away with it, and that kind of behavior apparently doesn’t fly in the NBA either; Hibbert was subsequently fined $75,000 for his remarks, which also covered the unedited MF’er he dropped earlier in the press conference.
I can assure you Hibbert doesn’t hate gays, though I can’t say for sure. I’ve never met the guy; I just assume most young, affluent, millionaire athletes have more important things on their minds, like their Roth IRAs. In fact, I’m pretty sure Ryan Seacrest and John Travolta could get married on Hibbert’s front lawn and Hibbert wouldn’t bat an eyelash. So what if he did? That’s his God-given right, and the idea that we preach freedom of expression and open thought seems disingenuous when we overreact to such an innocuous offense.
While we’re at it, let’s cool our jets on calling “no homo” a slur. “Queer,” when used derisively, is a slur. “No homo” is a joke that I’m pretty sure started in hip-hop culture (see Cameron Giles, a.k.a. Cam’ron) and has become more mainstream in recent years. Whether you like it or not, its usage is as common as sprinkling the F-bomb into everyday conversation, and it’s become a fabric in society’s blanket of clichés and stereotypes that may never unravel, such as small-penis Asian jokes.
Hibbert was simply making a joke – a harmless, yet ill-timed, joke. He thought it was funny, and so did his teammate, Paul George, who could be seen smirking shortly after Hibbert’s desperate attempt to steer the conversation in a different direction. If anything, I was more offended by Hibbert’s response when asked why he wasn’t ranked higher in the Player of the Year voting, not for his coarse language, but for not taking more responsibility for his own inconsistency during the regular season and instead blaming it on Indiana’s lack of national media coverage. Put a quarter in the swear jar, Roy, and own up to your own shortcomings. Being unaccountable is worse than being a slightly delusional, 7-foot-2 child in a man’s body looking for a cheap laugh.
Gays have become the new minority in that they’re offended by everything that might be construed as a negative remark to the point where their constant picketing and opposition defeats the purpose of their strive for equality. If you want equal footing, then deal with the daily rigors of being stereotyped, ridiculed, crapped on and shafted like the rest of us do. Welcome to the real world. Either develop a tougher exterior or get trampled on.
I understand Stern had no choice but to do something and perhaps this was his way of showing Collins – and all the organizations that stood united in his defense – that such childish remarks won’t be tolerated, but the fine itself was far worse than the crime. Show me the $75,000 worth of damage Hibbert caused and I’ll change the subject. Until then, it’s become increasingly obvious America needs to pop a Viagra and develop a sense of humor.
Support WBOB Sports