Drew Gooden of the Dallas Mavericks' is accused of using homophobic slurs in Los Angeles. Mavericks owner said he would like confirmation of the accusation.
By Jim Buzinski
Dallas Mavericks player Drew Gooden is accused by a Los Angeles Clippers fan of calling him and his friend "faggots" at Staples Center after the game Saturday night.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in an e-mail message to the fan, actor Chris Wylde, said he would "deal w Drew." Cuban, in an e-mail to Outsports on Sunday, said he is seeking confirmation of what Gooden said, and that if he took any action, it would stay private. The NBA is also investigating.
On Tuesday, Gooden declined comment after a morning practice. A team source told Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas that it was another person walking out of the arena with Gooden, not Gooden himself, who said "faggot." Wylde reiterated to Outsports that it was Gooden: "I was literally 5 feet away from the guy. It was 100% him," Wylde said.
Wylde, who is married and not gay, is a Clippers season ticket holder and was sitting with his friend in an area close to the Mavericks' bench during Dallas' 93-84 NBA win. Gooden, 28 and a seventh-year player signed by Dallas this season, was in street clothes after straining a rib the night before. Wylde said that Gooden made eye contact with them during the game, but that no words were exchanged with the player. He also said that Cuban "winked at us and pointed" during the game (both men were in Halloween costumes).
Here is the e-mail Wylde sent to Cuban Saturday night. Wylde said he got Cuban's e-mail address from an Internet search and sent him a message from his Blackberry:
"One of you players Drew Gooden called me and my friend 'faggots' at an away game in LA versus the Clippers. Its not bad enough we have the worst record in the league, but to literally be hate crimed by a millionaire is repulsive. Actions should be taken. Shame on your orginazation."
Wylde, 33, from Redondo Beach, Calif., elaborated to Outsports on what happened:
"My friend and I have been season ticket holders for the Clippers for eight seasons. Last night was Halloween, and he dressed up as longtime Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler and I dressed up as an airline pilot. We were upgraded to courtside Row 2, adjacent to the Mavs bench. We were maybe 10 feet away. All game, we loudly proudly rooted for our Clippers. We threw in some silly good-natured jibes against the Mavs (nothing against Gooden specifically) like how they have a short backup point guard, and that Dirk Nowitzki clearly had a fake tan. Is it a spray? Is it a cream? That sort of stuff. Very silly. Very innocent. But 95% pro-Clippers loudness.
"After the game we went to the souvenir shop and my friend said he wanted to check if one of the kiosks had a particular jersey he was looking for, so he headed back through the stadium and I followed a few feet behind. I saw him look shocked and turn to me, then I heard from Drew Gooden who was surrounded by three or four guys walking past me and pointing to me, 'there's that other faggot.' He had said 'there's that faggot' about my friend and that's why he turned to me shocked. It was completely unsolicited. We said nothing to him during the game, or in the hallway. He just called us both 'faggots' because he's a bigoted spoiled bully."When contacted by Outsports, Wylde's friend was not willing to go on the record about what happened at the game. Wylde said the incident happened in an empty hallway in the stadium.
Cuban (one of sports' most accessible owners) sent a reply minutes later to Wylde: "I appreciate you telling me. I will deal w drew."
When contacted by Outsports on Sunday, Cuban sent this reply:
For the record, I heard their heckling during the game, some was funny, some not as innocent as they want to make it sound. That doesnt excuse any homophobic commentary from anyone, but it does make me want to get confirmation. This wouldnt be the first time i received an accusatory email that turned out not to be factual because someone wanted to make a point of some sort to or about a "repulsive millionaire". Based on some of their heckling towards our players during the game, there could be some other motivation in their communications with us.
In terms of how I deal with it internally, its just as wrong to accuse someone of being homophobic as it is to make homophobic comments. I will deal with this privately and whatever we find or actions we take will stay private.
As an actor, Wylde said he has known gay people his entire career and has heard homophobic slurs hurled their way, which is why he was offended by what Gooden said.
"I do strongly feel that Drew Gooden and other professional athletes should not be walking around after games loudly referring to anyone, gay or straight, as a faggot," Wylde said. "I've been out with gay friends and been verbally assaulted with them. I've heard their stories before and it sickens me. ...
"[Gooden] could have said, ‘There's that loser, there's that idiot, moron, jackass, etc...' None of that would have bothered me. Sticks and stones. But for him to say, ‘faggot,' I am outraged. ... There are a handful of words one shouldn't say. It was intolerant, unacceptable and immature."
When asked what he wanted Cuban to do, Wylde said Sunday he wanted an apology from Gooden, or for Gooden to be fined. "There needs to be some kind of repercussions," he said. "I am so close to so many gay people who are beautiful and awesome, that what he said knocked the wind out of me."
On Tuesday, Wylde said he had calmed down, and did not think a fine was necessary, but he would like an apology, though he didn't expect one. "I would love it if Drew Gooden said, 'I am sorry I said this, I need to change my vocabulary. I need to change the way I think.' "
After former Utah Jazz player John Amaechi came out as gay in 2007, Cuban had this to say about how he thought an openly gay NBA player would fare:
"From a marketing perspective, if you're a player who happens to be gay and you want to be incredibly rich, then you should come out, because it would be the best thing that ever happened to you from a marketing and an endorsement perspective," Cuban said. "On the flip side, if you're the idiot who condemns somebody because they're gay, then you're going to be ostracized, you're going to be picketed and you're going to ruin whatever marketing endorsements you have."