The NBA announced today the league fined Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards $40,000 for using “offensive and derogatory language on social media.”
Edwards posted a video to his Instagram story on September 10th in which he used an anti-gay, homophobic slur to describe a group of people seen in the video. He issued an apology on Twitter the following day.
What I said was immature, hurtful, and disrespectful, and I’m incredibly sorry. It’s unacceptable for me or anyone to use that language in such a hurtful way, there’s no excuse for it, at all. I was raised better than that!— Anthony Edwards (@theantedwards_) September 11, 2022
However, many understandably felt that it fell short of the mark. As a result, they called for Edwards to take his actions beyond a tweet to make amends for hurting so many people in the Timberwolves and Lynx organizations, fans of the teams and the league, and NBA stakeholders at-large.
Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly issued a statement on September 12th on behalf of the organization:
“We are disappointed in the language and actions Anthony Edwards displayed on social media,” Connelly said. “The Timberwolves are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming organization for all and apologize for the offense this has caused to so many.”
All three statements — from the league, from Edwards, and from Connelly — did not mention homophobia or the LGBTQ+ community. The league’s release did not address whether or not the fine would be donated to any suitable charity or organization that supports LGBTQ+ people.
Precedent for the penalty lies in the league fining Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant $50,000 last year for a direct message exchange with actor Michael Rapoport, in which Durant used homophobic and misogynistic language.
NBA announces Kevin Durant has been fined $50,000 for ‘offensive and derogatory language on social media.’ League also says Durant has acknowledged his ‘actions were inappropriate.’ A direct message conversation between Durant and Michael Rappaport was posted by Rappaport: pic.twitter.com/n1pYHWsnaN— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 2, 2021
The NBA used nearly identical wording in its press release announcing Durant’s fine, but did not mention the homophobic or misogynistic nature of his comments, or apologize to groups Durant offended.
In its response to comments made by Durant, and now Edwards, the league has now set a trend in how it acts in the wake of these incidents: by issuing a slap-on-the-wrist fine before choosing to ignore the groups their players offend.
The reality is that what Edwards said deeply hurt an immeasurable number of people, and a $40,000 fine does nothing to change that or work towards fixing the damage he caused to the LBGTQ+ community.
Minnesota Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve expressed her concern not only for the LGBTQ+ community — and especially LGBTQ+ youth — who were hurt by Edwards’ comments, but also for how the organization would proceed with its work to repair the damage Edwards caused.
“The [organization is] going to be there for Anthony. I want to caution them from prioritizing Anthony over the LGBTQ+ community he offended,” Reeve said in an interview with Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “That is really important to me.”
Reeve, who also serves as the head coach for USA Basketball’s Senior Women’s National Team, has long been a respected, outspoken voice for her peers in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the WNBA and Minnesota Lynx organizations.
Since releasing their initial apologies/statements, Edwards and the Timberwolves have opted against taking any action stemming from his public, anti-gay diatribe, including a donation to a charity or organization.
As our friends over at Outsports wrote, the NBA has a hypocrisy problem on its hands.
The league has been out front various times, expressing its support for the LGBT community, creating Pride shirts for every team, appearing in Pride parades, etc.
Yet the language athletes use is where the rubber hits the court.
The 21-year-old has yet to make any verbal comments on video apologizing for his troubling actions. He will likely have an opportunity to do so when the Timberwolves hold media day next Monday, September 26, during which Edwards is expected to appear and take questions from the media, including our friend Chris Hine, who is openly gay.
In the wake of Edwards’ comments, Hine joined Blue Wire’s The Dane Moore NBA Podcast, to discuss his career in the industry as a beat writer, including covering athletes who have made homophobic remarks.
Edwards not only has work to do to repair the damage he caused to the LGBTQ+ community, but also has the opportunity to make some good out of an abhorrent situation.
In the week-plus since he posted that demeaning video, he has chosen not to do either of those things. Until he does, the LGBTQ+ community is eagerly awaiting his response.