Despite having apologized for hurling an anti-gay slur at a fan, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is facing criticism from gay rights groups.

During game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, the six-foot-eleven, 26-year-old Noah was called for a personal foul against LeBron James in the opening quarter. As TNT's cameras remained fixed on the benched player, he appeared to shout “faggot” at a fan in Miami's American Airlines Arena. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

“I apologize,” Noah said on Sunday. “The fan said something to me that I thought was disrespectful, and I said some things that I shouldn't have said. I was frustrated and I don't mean no disrespect to anybody. I just got caught up.”

While acknowledging Noah's apology, GLAAD president Jarred Barrios urged the NBA to take action.

"Noah's apology is a start," Barrios said. "We are confident that the NBA will now take disciplinary measures and hasten its work with us to tell all players that there is no place for anti-gay words and attitudes in the game."

Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, suggested that Noah had set back a nascent effort to rid homophobia in professional sports.

“We need to get to a point where you don’t use an anti-gay slur to respond to events. It’s just plain unacceptable,” Solmonese said in a statement. “At a time when the NBA and a growing number of pro-athletes are publicly standing up for equality, it’s too bad Mr. Noah worked against their efforts last night. That said, we’re pleased he quickly realized the error of his ways and apologized.”

A PSA featuring Phoenix Suns players Grant Hill and Jared Dudley urging young people not use the word “gay” as an insult was being broadcast by the NBA during Sunday night's telecast.

The incident comes after Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant was fined $100,00 for using the same anti-gay slur against referee Bennie Adams last month. Bryant apologized but added that he'll appeal the fine, prompting former NBA player John Amaechi, who is gay, to question Bryant's sincerity.