Chris Bosh wants 'all slurs' banned

Updated: February 26, 2014, 11:02 PM ET
By Michael Wallace | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Heat center Chris Bosh would support the NBA following the NFL's lead in efforts to consider penalizing players for using the N-word and other racial slurs during games.

Bosh, who is black, said he hears the N-word used by players during games and that it creates uncomfortable situations, although he says it's used primarily "in a friendly" way.

Bosh was asked about the subject by a Miami-area radio reporter during his session with media after Wednesday's practice in preparation for Thursday's game against the New York Knicks.

"It's a very tough situation," Bosh said of the prospect of penalizing the use of the N-word. "If that's the case, they should ban all slurs. And I know it's a big deal, because I think that word is used too much, especially in the mainstream nowadays."

Bosh's comments come at a time when both the NFL and NBA are dealing with controversial issues regarding race and sexual orientation of players.

Earlier this week, Jason Collins became the first openly gay player to participate in an NBA game after signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Former Missouri linebacker Michael Sam addressed questions during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis about the prospects of becoming the first openly gay player to be drafted into the league.

The NFL is considering legislation to enforce 15-yard penalties for the use of racial and homophobic slurs. Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who is part of the NFL's competition committee, expects the league to address the issue during meetings next week in Naples, Fla., before formally presenting potential guidelines during owners' meetings later in March.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said "at this time, the league is not contemplating a rule in that area."

Bosh is in favor of seeing the NBA follow suit but acknowledges that enforcing a similar penalty in basketball -- which could conceivably come in the form of technical fouls or ejections for escalating offenses -- would present a challenge for officiating crews.

"I don't know how they're going to [enforce] it," he said. "That's going to be a tough thing. It's your word against his word. I think that can kind of get tricky.

"Well, what if I say this? There are a bunch of other [offensive] things I could say and not get a penalty. I think if we're going to bring one thing in, I think we've got to put them all in the hat. And I think that'll work out [better]."

[+] EnlargeChris Bosh
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty ImagesChris Bosh says it'd be a "tough situation" for the NBA to enforce a rule against using slurs in games.

John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance (which monitors diversity in the NFL), has been behind the push to have the N-word and other slurs banned in sports.

But Bosh is among those who believe that context creates a major issue regarding potential policing of the N-word because it can be used as a term of endearment as well as a slur.

"That's why it's so confused, because it's in mainstream America now," Bosh said. "And a lot of people say, 'Aw, I'm not a racist because I used it in a friendly way.'

"It's like I said -- if you're going to [penalize] one word, then put them all in there. Use every slur, every negative curse word, if you will, and that will simplify it a little bit."

The NBA has not publicly dealt with use of the N-word specifically but has reacted swiftly to incidents in which players have used homophobic slurs in recent seasons.

Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 in April 2011 after national television cameras caught him directing a homophobic slur at a referee. Bryant later conceded to an ESPN radio station in Los Angeles that his words were inappropriate.

In announcing the fine to Bryant, Stern also issued a statement condemning use of any distasteful language during games. A month later, Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 during the playoffs for directing a homophobic slur toward a fan.

"Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive and derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our league," Stern said in a 2011 statement after the Bryant incident.

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