Ozzie Guillen supports Joakim Noah
Guillen was fined and ordered to undergo sensitivity training for using a similar slur in 2006 while referring to former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti.
Calling it "a mistake you regret," Guillen also said that the person who irritated Noah in the first place should be investigated.
"Nobody took a look at why [Noah] said it," Guillen said. "He's not going to say that because he's crazy. Maybe some guy was playing with him and made him mad, and the first thing that comes to your mind is that word, even if you don't want to. That comes out very natural."
Guillen said he often hears ugly comments from fans in the field level seats behind the team's dugout, but he says he watches his tongue now. He claims the most reaction he has is to offer the lineup to a heckling fan to see if they can do any better.
"You have to be careful what you do and what you say when you're an athlete and you're a public figure, because I bet you 90 percent of the people out on the street are using that same word he used and nobody cares about it," Guillen said. "But that's the part I don't like about being a public figure, that people take advantage of that.
"A lot of people take advantage of it because I guarantee you there are not people out there who are going to say that word just because. There's a reason to and those people [instigators], they don't care. And we're the ones that get punished, paying fines, get embarrassed and being in front of the TV saying 'I apologize to people. I don't mean it. I'm sorry.' Those people put us on the spot to say what we say. Unfortunately, that happened. But you have to be careful of what you say, when you say it and how you say it. I say that from experience."
Guillen is a noted Bulls fan, who lists Noah as one of his favorite players. So he offered advice for the Bulls' standout the next time he encounters an unruly fan. It came, of course, in typical Guillen fashion.
"I think Noah is so intense; he has so much passion for the game," Guillen said. "I guarantee you that's the first thing that came out of his mouth. I don't think he mean it or something. Sometimes you're better off kicking a guy's butt than calling him names. At least it's worth it."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.