Commissioner David Stern, in an attempt to prevent a war with the gay community and preserve the image of his league, fined Kobe Bryant a hefty $100,000 for his comments during the Lakers’ win Tuesday night against the Spurs.
Kobe was vexed about a foul call that forced him to go to the bench in one of the most important games of the regular season.
When Bryant got to the bench, after punching the chair and throwing a towel, yelled to referee Benny Adams “f**king f**got” (see below).
These comments weren’t taken lightly in the eyes of the Human Rights Campaign:
“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching.”
“Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] people around the world, but also perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate.”
The GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) President also made a statement directed not only Bryant, but the Lakers organization:
“Discriminatory slurs have no place on or off the court. Professional sports players need to set a better example for young people who use words like this on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. The LA Lakers have a responsibility to educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”
David Stern, widely considered to be the best commissioner in pro sports, made it clear that Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA knows that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in the NBA or society.
Kobe’s initial response:
“What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period.
The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”
We have all been guilty of saying things we don’t exactly mean in rage. Not saying it’s right, but it does happen.
Kobe spoke on ESPN 710’s “Mason & Ireland” show on Wednesday afternoon. He was asked if he was sitting in the same room with referee Benny Adams now, what would he say. Bryant laughed and said: “That wasn’t a damn foul.”
“We talked after the game when both of us were a lot calmer,” Bryant said . “Officials understand that, understand that you have emotional outbursts during the course of the game. That doesn’t actually mean what you say.”
Kobe agreed that his comments were wrong.
“The comment that I made, even though it wasn’t meant in the way it was perceived to be, is nonetheless wrong, so it’s important to own that,” Bryant said.
He concluded by adding: “The concern that I have is for those that follow what I say and are inspired by how I play or look to me as a role model or whatever it is, for them not to take what is said as a message of hate or a license to degrade or embarrass or tease. That’s something I don’t want to see happen. It’s important for me to talk about that issue because it’s OK to be who you are, and I don’t want this issue to be a part of something or to magnify something that shouldn’t be.”
Despite Kobe making $25 million this season (about $300,000 per game), he is appealing the fine.