The NBA fined Minnesota Timberwolves guard and star Anthony Edwards $40,000 following a video of him uttering homophobic slurs he posted going viral on his Instagram page.
Edward’s video made rounds on social media a month ago, with the target being the LGBTQIA+ community and specifically gay men.
Edwards recorded the video while driving, directing derogatory language and slurs toward a group of shirtless men. He proceeded to share his comments with his 1.2 million Instagram followers.
The Consequences Of The Video
The league’s decision to reprimand Edward’s misbehavior is nothing new. This year only, players have lost up to $95,000 in fines for swearing only. I think basketball players are more prone to speak their minds than other professional sports players.
Edwards has since deleted the video and apologized on Twitter. The apology received mixed reviews, where some claim his punishment was not “harsh enough” and is damage control by the team, while others say other players have said far more derogatory things.
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
In his apology post, he said, “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!” there was no mention of the wronged community, which many have found offensive.
How Did The Timberwolves React?
The Minnesota Timberwolves stated on Instagram following the viral video. “We are disappointed in the language and actions Anthony Edwards displayed on social media. The Timberwolves are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming organization for all and apologize for the offense this has caused to so many.”
The league has been known to fine players who use derogatory or profane language. Last year, Kevin Durant was fined $50,000 when his private exchange with the actor Michael Rappaport using misogynistic and anti-gay remarks was exposed.
Kareen Abdul-Jabar, a basketball Hall of Famer, also condemned Edwards’ behavior, citing that his remarks would further endanger an already excluded community. He commented on his Substack that such a video “perpetuates prejudice against a group and that prejudice often leads to restricting rights and to violence.”
Kareen understands the power of social media and how a simple video could expose unwitting participants to violence. He encouraged Edwards to show remorse and reparative justice to the wronged community by doing some community. Kareem had always shown allegiance to the LGBTQIA community when he condemned Kevin Durant for similar offenses.
Anthony Edwards has been fined $40K for his use of "offensive and derogatory language" on social media pic.twitter.com/exCMwdOkTE
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 20, 2022
Previous Precedents In NBA
The NBA boasts of an inclusive community and celebrates Pride with the LGBTQIA+ community. However, currently, only one active player is publicly open about being gay and part of the NBA teams. The NBA may not want to admit it, but a lingering perception that the league stigmatizes homosexuality persists.
In 2015, when the NBA referee Bill Kennedy came out, his coming out was followed by a homophobic slur directed at him by one of the players, Rajan Rondo, during a game.
Rondo was soon suspended for this, which shows how conservative men’s professional sports are. However, Kennedy represented the NBA during the subsequent New York parade, and since then, the NBA has been a big collaborator for pride events.
— NBA Cares (@nbacares) June 7, 2016
How Is Edwards Performing For Timberwolves?
Edwards is entering his third season and one of the NBA’s rising stars who scored 21.3 points in his last season with an average of 4 rebounds and three assists in every game, all while leading his team, the Timberwolves, into playoffs for the first time in the last five years.
He was the team’s second-leading scorer and was the first pick during the 2020 draft, with a successful season where the league ranked him 19th and the NBA 13th. Many predict his best season yet to come while playing alongside Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony Towns. It does not seem like he will be punished more for his homophobic language, despite calls for suspension on Twitter.
NBA’s announcement of the fine is yet another instance of the inability of the league to hold homophobia fully and targeted harassment for what it truly is. The use of generalized message search as “use of derogatory and offensive language” fails to adequately capture and address the persistent homophobia in the league.
Anthony Edwards for the @Timberwolves tonight:
5 threes made
He's the first player in NBA history to reach all of those numbers in a single game.
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) January 26, 2022
What The Future Holds?
The NBA, along with Edwards, admits its wrongdoing but refuses to acknowledge why what he did was wrong. This is yet another chance the NBA missed of having concrete conversations around homophobia prevalent in the league by sweeping under the rug this misconduct with a hefty fine.
Despite calls for suspension and firing, the NBA has not given any more of a response except to condemn and fine the 21-year-old player, which is in line with the league.
A rising star whose season is set to begin next month in Oklahoma City Thunder and whose shimmer will not be dimmed by what others claim was “a mere error in his judgment,”. Edwards is expected to take a giant forward leap in his career this coming season.
ANTHONY EDWARDS BEING ANTHONY EDWARDS 😂 pic.twitter.com/fHnHmODBo1
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 24, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons