NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t impressed with Anthony Edwards’ banal apology for using anti-gay language to belittle a group of men and then sharing the video on social media.
On his Substack, Abdul-Jabbar says the Minnesota Timberwolves star must make amends with the LGBTQ community for his words to be meaningful.
“I don’t think an apology — however heartfelt — is enough,” writes Kareem. “Edwards needs to repair the damage with some voluntary community service with LGBTQ+ organizations, particularly youth groups, to show his support. If he can’t do that much to undo the harm he’s caused, then his apology is meaningless.”
Amen! Issuing an apology for using homophobic slurs is perfunctory. It takes minimal effort to craft a statement expressing regret.
It takes a lot more time to understand why using anti-gay language is wrong in the first place.
Edwards didn’t even mention gay or LGBTQ people in his apology for referring to a group of shirtless men as “queer-ass ni**as” and then posting the video to his Instagram story.
“What I said was immature, hurtful, and disrespectful, and I’m incredibly sorry,” he tweeted. “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!”
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
Edwards’ self-flagellation is tough to take. He may tweet that he’s appalled over his actions, but the fact is, he insulted men with homophobic language and then shared his musings on Instagram to his 1.2 million followers.
That means this was a premeditated action. Edwards didn’t just misspeak in the heat of the moment. He spewed his insult, and then took the time to post on social media.
The Timberwolves followed suit with an equally lame statement void of substance. “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,” the statement reads.
The NBA fined Edwards $40,000 Tuesday — far less than they’ve docked other players for using anti-gay language on the court. Back in 2011, the league fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 for calling a referee a gay slur.
Abdul-Jabbar points out that Edwards is only 21 years old; but in this case, youth isn’t an excuse. Edwards has been in the NBA for two seasons. He should know better.
“It would be easy to dismiss Edwards’ immaturity — he’s only 21 — if not for the fact that we’ve seen so many cases of famous athletes and owners in the news spouting racism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments,” writes Kareem. “This damages sports in general and their teams specifically, and revives the old stereotype of the dumb, bullying jock.”
There are multiple examples of NBA players who have backed up their apologies for using anti-gay slurs with tangible action. Bryant participated in a public service video for GLAAD and became a staunch supporter of out LGBTQ athletes later in life.
As a more contemporary example, Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed, who was one of more than three dozen players whose previous homophobic tweets were exposed by Outsports, issued a genuine apology about how his eyes have been “opened to the struggles that the LGBTQ+ community faces every day.”
Edwards may say he was raised better than to call shirtless men “queer-ass.” But as Kareem says, now it’s time for him to show it.