Yesterday we learned that Dallas Mavericks forward Tim Thomas is accused of hurling anti-gay epithets at a Garland man right here in the Voice’s backyard, at the Denny’s restaurant in the 4400 block of Central Expressway. At first we didn’t think too much of it. After all, Thursday was production day here at the Voice, and what are these people doing at Denny’s at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday anyway? Plus, wasn’t another Mavs player recently accused of using the new F-word? Perhaps, we thought, the Mavs players are just being taught to use this word when trash-talking their opponents in training camp. But today, we can’t ignore it anymore, because the gay plot seems to have thickened significantly. The Morning News has an update on the police investigation into the incident, and the story includes this little nugget: Victim Damien Pettie, while not gay, is a stripper at a gay club. Now in case you’re not familiar with our ‘hood, this Denny’s is almost directly across the highway from Zippers and B.J.’s NXS, two dick-dancing dens. But wait, there’s even more. Although Pettie is not gay, he says he was with two gay men (probably co-workers) and that may have been what caused Thomas to think he was gay and call him a “faggot.” As the story goes, Pettie responded by cursing back at Thomas, and one of the men who was with Thomas responded by busting Pettie’s lip. Then all hell broke loose, with chairs and tables flying. But here’s what I’m wondering: If it turns out that Thomas and his friends targeted Pettie because of his “actual or perceived sexual orientation,” would this not be an anti-gay hate crime? Also, if you see a guy with a fat lip dancing at the bar tonight, give him an extra dollar. If his story is true, he stood up to a 6’10” NBA brute and took one in the chops to protect the hand that feeds him.