However, video of the interview makes his denial difficult to believe.
The incident in question took place in the third quarter following a collision between Wiggins and Thunder center Nerlens Noel that sent Noel off the court in a stretcher. Moments later Thunder guard Dennis Schroder got into an altercation with Minnesota’s Jeff Teague, which lead to Teague’s ejection from the game.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” Wiggins said of Schroder after the game. “He was just [gay/getting], he was acting crazy for no reason. I look right through him. He’s not someone I look at as a problem.”
Outsports reached out to the Timberwolves, who pointed us to the denial Wiggins posted on Twitter:
Id like to clarify what I said tonight during my post game media session. I said: “I don’t know what’s wrong with him he was just getting... acting crazy for no reason”.— andrew wiggins (@22wiggins) January 9, 2019
He then Tweeted a statement that he loves the LGBTQ community:
I have the utmost love and respect for the LGBTQIA community and I would never use any term to disrespect them in anyway.— andrew wiggins (@22wiggins) January 9, 2019
Except, watching the video his denial is difficult to believe. You can watch the tape of the interview yourself. When asked a question he smirks and then makes the comment. Does he say “gay” or “getting”?
ESPN, for one, isn’t buying Wiggins’ explanation, saying clearly that Wiggins did in fact use the word. Sports Illustrated isn’t buying it either.
Despite Wiggins’ denial, after watching the video literally dozens of times and trying to place the word “getting” into his mouth, it just doesn’t fit. This publication doesn’t buy his explanation, either.
The LGBTQ community has battled against this kind of language for years, particularly in sports where it has been so commonplace for so long. Wiggins’ use of the word in this derogatory manner equated being gay to being “crazy.” It’s a remnant of a time going by faster and faster, yet it continues to breed an environment where LGBTQ athletes and coaches feel marginalized today.
While this language doesn’t necessarily mean Wiggins hates gay people, we know it’s this very language that keeps so many athletes from coming out. In a league that’s had only one openly gay active player in its history — Jason Collins — this is particularly unfortunate.
One positive thing is that he followed his denial with an embrace of the LGBTQ community. Whether he said it or not, that’s a positive thing.
In the past, the NBA has fined players for using language offensive to the LGBTQ community. Most recently, in November, the NBA fined Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic $25,000 for saying “no homo” (that amount of the fine seems to go down every time a player does something like this). Of course, this language will continue to persist until the league starts suspending players for homophobic language. Only then will the players, their agents and the players association take this seriously.