Pacers center Roy Hibbert used a homophobic slang term during a televised news conference after Indiana's 91-77 victory over Miami in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday.
Asked about his defense during a crucial fourth-quarter play that ended with LeBron James being called for an offensive foul and a technical foul, Hibbert explained that he was attempting to do a better job of helping Paul George defend the 2013 MVP.
"The momentum could have shifted right there if [James] got an easy dunk," Hibbert said. "There was what ‑‑ was it Game 3 here? I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because they stretched me out so much. No homo."
That two-word phrase was popularized by rappers who, according to Slate, used it to "rid [statements] of possible homosexual double-entendre" and, generally speaking, to "acknowledge and distance themselves" from homosexuals.
Update: Hibbert issued an apology in a statement released by the Pacers on Sunday.
It's unclear whether Hibbert will face a sanction from the NBA for his comment. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using a gay slur that was caught on a national television broadcast in 2011. In the league's official transcript of Hibbert's news conference, which was conducted jointly with George and streamed live on NBA.com, the words were replaced by "(Expletive)."
In April, Wizards free-agent center Jason Collins became the first active openly gay male athlete in the four major American sports leagues by revealing his sexuality in an essay for Sports Illustrated.
"I have no problem with openly gay men," Hibbert said at the time, according to the Journal Courier. "More power to them. We live in a day in age where people are more accepting as opposed to years ago. [Collins] and his family may have some adversity in the coming days and weeks, but I have no problem with it."
The NBA has long prided itself on tolerance towards minority groups.
“We have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” commissioner David Stern said in a statement after Collins' announcement. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”
It was a particularly eventful press conference for Hibbert, who also referred to media members as "m-----f------" in explaining his placement on this year's Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Hibbert finished with 24 points (on 11-for-20 shooting) and 11 rebounds in 42 minutes. The Heat and Pacers are now tied at three games apiece. Game 7 is Monday in Miami.