Last night, in a moment of frustration after receiving a technical foul, Kobe Bryant uttered a word toward referee Bennie Adams that is a derogatory slang word for homosexuals.
It was caught clearly by television cameras on the nationally broadcast game, creating an instant firestorm debate on twitter that has spilled over into a national debate today. Our own John Krolik did an excellent post on this and the implications earlier today.
Wednesday Kobe released an official statement through the team.
“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.”
The league has said it is looking into the incident.
As Krolik said before, the issue is not so much Kobe the person — this same word is tossed around casually in locker rooms across all sports — but the attitude around sports and in society in general that tolerates it. Maybe it is just a word, but it is a word with serious baggage and implications.
Kobe is not the good guy in this. There is no good guy. But as with most changes in society is is about small steps forward on big issues. While it wasn’t Kobe’s intention, maybe this will help people — particularly those inside sports — realize the word is a form of bigotry and its use should not be tolerated (not to mention the attitude behind it). Then something good can come of it.