The NBA, America’s top professional basketball association, has fined New York Knicks player Amar’e Stoudemire for privately sending a fan an anti-gay slur on Twitter.

Stoudemire, a power forward and centre player for the New York team, was fined $50,000, around £32,000 for calling a fan a ‘fag’.

The fan in question, Brian Ferrelli, had sent a tweet to the basketball player saying he had “better come back a lot stronger and quicker to make up for this past season”.

Stoudemire reacted angrily in a private message to the fan, saying: “Fuck you. I don’t have to do anything fag.”

The NBA said the message was “offensive and derogatory”.

Stoudmire had reportedly sent the fan a second direct message saying: “I apologise for what I said earlier. I just got off the plane and had time to think about it. Sorry bro!! No excuses. Won’t happen again.”

Mr Ferrelli wrote on Twitter subsequently: “Amar’e did his part out of anger then apologised and I did my part out of anger and I’m still a huge fan of him. Everyone can shut up now.”

He has received messages of support and criticism on Twitter for making the gay slur public.