Actor says center made insult

DALLAS -- A team source denied accusations that Dallas Mavericks center/forward Drew Gooden used a homosexual slur to insult a couple of Los Angeles Clippers fans Saturday night.

The NBA is reviewing the incident, according to league spokesman Tim Frank.

One of the fans made the accusations to Outsports.com, a Web site that focuses on gay issues in sports. The team source said that a man walking out of the Staples Center with Gooden was the one who made the offensive comments.

Chris Wylde, a 33-year-old Clippers season-ticket holder, who is not gay, said the comments were made after he and his friend sat courtside, adjacent to the Mavericks bench, and did some "good-natured" heckling.

Gooden, who is nursing a rib injury, wore street clothes and sat behind the Mavericks bench during the game.

"After the game we went to the souvenir shop and my friend said he wanted to check if one of the kiosks had a particular jersey he was looking for, so he headed back through the stadium and I followed a few feet behind," Wylde told the Web site. "I saw him look shocked and turn to me, then I heard from Drew Gooden who was surrounded by three or four guys walking past me and pointing to me, 'There's that other faggot.' He had said, 'There's that faggot' about my friend and that's why he turned to me shocked. It was completely unsolicited. We said nothing to him during the game, or in the hallway. He just called us both 'faggots' because he's a bigoted spoiled bully."

Gooden declined to comment after the Mavericks' shootaround Tuesday morning.

When reached by ESPNDallas.com, Wylde said he was certain that it was Gooden who made the offensive comments. Wylde said Gooden didn't direct the comments toward him or the other Clippers fan, but Wylde overheard Gooden talking to his friends.

"I personally think Drew is kind of covering his tracks right now," Wylde said. "I'm 100 percent confident he said it. I basically just want to make sure that this doesn't happen in the future, because God forbid he says it to the wrong person."

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban declined multiple requests from ESPNDallas.com to comment on the accusations. Cuban did reply when contacted by Outsports.com.

"For the record, I heard their heckling during the game, some was funny, some not as innocent as they want to make it sound," Cuban wrote in an e-mail to the Web site. "That doesn't excuse any homophobic commentary from anyone, but it does make me want to get confirmation. This wouldn't 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, it's 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."

Wylde, whose seats were upgraded to courtside, acknowledged that he heckled the Mavericks throughout the game. Wylde, an actor, said he made fun of Dirk Nowitzki's tan, J.J. Barea's height and asked Cuban for a loan but never said anything offensive.

"We were saying ridiculous stuff but nothing hateful or hurtful," said Wylde, who didn't recall getting any reaction from Gooden during the game. "We were yelling silly stuff. Nothing vulgar, nothing offensive."

Outsports.com co-founder Jim Buzinski, who wrote the story, said he found Wylde's story credible but could not corroborate it.

"The reason we highlight these sorts of things is because that word is a signal in sports that you're weak or feminine or not good enough," Buzinski said. "To me, 'faggot' is the slur of choice for professional athletes. At Outsports, we just think this kind of things has to stop."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at tim.macmahon@espn3.com.