As bad as Sunday night was for Joakim Noah, whose Chicago Bulls fell behind 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, his Tuesday afternoon could be even worse.
The NBA is expected to fine the Bulls center up to six figures for an anti-gay slur he shouted at a fan in the stands at the American Airlines Arena during the first quarter of Sunday's Heat victory.
After picking up his second foul midway through the first quarter, Noah was pulled from the game. Upon taking his seat, he could be seen on the TNT broadcast exchanging words (including both F-words, because he's so versatile!) with a heckler off screen near the Bulls bench.
"It's very disappointing. I apologize if I offended anyone," Noah said after the game. "I was just caught in the moment. A fan said something that was disrespectful toward me, and I responded. I have to take the consequences like a man. It was just a bad decision on my part."
How much could this gaffe cost Noah? Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers was fined $100,000 for shouting the same slur at a referee in an April game against San Antonio.
The NBA could make an announcement about a punishment by Tuesday. It is unlikely that Noah will face a suspension for his comment, but a fine in the neighborhood of Bryant's price range is expected. Noah was paid $3.1 million by the Bulls this season.
Noah wasn't the only person who allowed the Miami crowd to get under his skin last night. TNT analyst and frequent Heat critic Charles Barkley gave fans outside the American Airlines Arena a one-fingered salute as the crowd heckled him after the game. The Heat fans were giving Sir Charles the business for calling the Heat "a whiny bunch" last week.
Having provoked those two reactions Sunday night, who can say with any seriousness that Miami fans aren't passionate now?
David Hill is a Miami native and the former owner of a youth replica Rony Seikaly jersey.