NBA stands pat on a fine with Kevin Durant’s return to action looming

The big news in mainstream sports about Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is that he is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing 23 games with a hamstring injury when the Nets host the New Orleans Pelicans.

But the LGBTQ sports news regarding his direct messages to actor, and sometimes internet provocateur, Michael Rapaport, laced with homophobic put downs, still lingers. With Durant reported to be returning to action, it appears that the $50,000 levied on the longtime, outspoken LGBTQ ally by the National Basketball Association will be the only sanction against him.

And for the most part, the straight media has yawned.

In contrast, that fine has been criticized by voices within the LGBTQ community, including here at Outsports. Our Cyd Zeigler and Outsports deputy managing editor Alex Reimer strongly criticized the handling of the situation by the league and the teams in opinion pieces published after news of the feud first came to light.

“Fines for someone like Durant are truly meaningless,” Zeigler wrote. “He will literally more than pay off this fine halfway through the first quarter of his next game.”

Reimer said Durant’s choice of words “is hard to sidestep, because of the vile language Durant used. It was misogynist, threatening and homophobic. He can say he was joking, but that’s the problem.”

Some voices across the media landscape echoed those thoughts. ESPN reporter Israel Gutierrez, himself openly gay, noted on an appearance on ESPN’s Spain and Fitz podcast April 1: “If a young person struggling with his sexual identity hears these words used at that level of hatred and says ‘Wow, if you are using these words to get across this level of hate, there must be something wrong with me,’ that is just death by a million paper cuts. Clearly it affects people.”

Outsports reached out to representatives of the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA in regard to further comment or further probable sanctions. Neither responded as of press time.

LGBTQ advocacy groups contacted by Outsports responded critically:

“It is the responsibility of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to ensure that players and teams in the League do not discriminate against anybody – including members of the LGBTQ community. It is also the responsibility of the Brooklyn Nets to sanction superstar Kevin Durant for his vile homophobic comments in a more severe nature than $50,000,” Helen Carroll, LGBTQ Sports Consultant for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told Outsports. “It is a shame that at a time when we are seeing renewed attacks against LGBTQ individuals, particularly transgender youth, in statehouses all around the country, there has been near silence on Durant’s hateful and hurtful words from a league that purports to support our community.”

Across social media there is a clear line of contention. Most straight fans look critically at Rapaport for having taken a private beef public, rather than at Durant’s response. Many LGBTQ fans have focused on the vitriol in Durant’s response to Rapaport and to the apology Durant made in his initial public comments on the incident.

One LGBTQ voice, former pro hockey player Brock McGillis, used his Twitter to clearly define the shortcomings of the response of Durant and the league, and what the consequences of a tepid response are.

What do you think? Tell us below in the comments!

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