The Dallas Mavericks recently visited the Staples Center for a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, one that the Mavs won 93-84. Drew Gooden was in street clothes for the game, sidelined with a rib injury, which meant that he wasn’t as readily able to tune out hecklers as a player in the game would. And here we go.
Two partisan Clippers fans taunted Gooden and the rest of the Mavericks over the course of the night, using the old tried-and-true method of seeing a detail about someone and then yelling about it. “Dirk Nowitzki has a fake tan,” etc. etc., at a high volume. Apparently, either Gooden or an acquaintance allegedly pointed the two fans out after the game and called them “faggots.” Alert the presses? One of the fans, an actor with one memorable TV appearance, doesn’t mind if he does.
As OUT SPORTS explains, Chris Wylde was one of the fans taunted with the slur, which was all he needed for a hate crime accusation:
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.
On Tuesday, Gooden declined comment after a morning practice. A team source told a local reporter that it was another person walking out of the arena with Gooden, not Gooden himself, who said “faggot.”
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* [sic].”
Cuban, for what it’s worth, was there at the game too; moreover, he heard the heckling and had this to say in response:
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.
Of all the things you can say about the offending comment, you can add “inaccurate” to the mix; Wylde, as Out Sports explains, is married and not gay. In fact, two weeks prior to the incident, Wylde had posted a video of his wife and himself relaxing in a hammock… while he was wearing a Clippers jersey. Prescient!:
If he looks a little familiar but you’re not quite sure why, perhaps a clip from American Idol may jog your memory:
Yes, the Rapping Nanny from like the first or second season (we lost track, to be honest) was none other than Mr. Wylde - no relation to Zakk, we’re pretty sure. His IMDB page has little else of note, other than a short-lived Comedy Central talk show and some bit parts.
Opposition to gay slurs as a common term of derision isn’t exactly new to Wylde; at COLLEGEHUMOR.COM, he wrote an essay decrying its use a few years ago. That was a couple months after bragging about “my cash heavy marijuana dealing job.”
But evidently somewhere between 2005 and today, his opinion of “faggot” changed from “stupid, lazy insult” to “literally hate crimed,” which could easily be chalked up to mindless hyperbole if he hadn’t said “literally” and gone on to call Gooden a “bigoted spoiled bully.”
According to CIVILRIGHTS.ORG, here’s the FBI’s definition of a hate crime:
A criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.
As yet, Wylde has not filed criminal charges against Gooden, and his friend refused to speak on the record to Out Sports.
*Fun activity: pronounce the first part of the typo like it rhymes with “vagina.” Anyway.