Tag: Kobe gay slur

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

Watch Kobe, Lakers new “words can hurt” PSA


We’ve all seen the fallout and talked about Kobe Bryant being caught using a homophobic slur on national television.

As our own John Korlik said so well, freedom of speech is different from freedom from consequences. Kobe’s words had consequences. The slur he used is simply an unacceptable word to use in civilized society. He tried his best to own up to and apologize for his mistakes.

Part of that will be shown tonight — Kobe (with the help of his teammates) making a PSA about language. Is this in and of itself going to change a mind? Probably not. But if out of this some people have started to get the message, if the needle has moved a little bit, then this wasn’t all a waste.

Kobe fined $100K for “distasteful term” used toward referee

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant reacts during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in Los Angeles

Kobe Bryant’s emotional use of a derogatory slang term toward gays aimed at a referee Tuesday night — caught and shown to a national television audience — has led to a hefty fine from David Stern and the league office.

“Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable,” Stern said in a released statement. “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. Accordingly, I have fined Kobe $100,000. Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

Stern is right; there is no place for it. It doesn’t matter if it is a word commonly thrown around on many NBA courts and in junior high football locker rooms too, that does not make it right. To say it is a societal problem is both correct and does not absolve any one person.

Stern, of course, also has a league image issue to maintain. You can be sure that also was part of the reasoning for the large fine.

The incident happened in the second half, when Kobe picked up a technical foul for clapping his hands demonstratively after not getting a foul call he thought he had earned (it was one of the “respect the game” technical that have been called inconsistently all season for showing up referees). Kobe stormed to the bench afterwards, punched his chair and threw a towel.

Then — with the camera still on him closely — called referee Bennie Adams a derogatory name for homosexuals.

That incident caused an almost instant backlash and debate on twitter among NBA fans and carried on into today. Our own John Krolik wrote a thoughtful piece on the matter today.

Kobe himself issued this 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.”

Kobe called and spoke with an apologized to the heads of some gay and lesbian advocacy organizations. Phil Jackson sounded like a guy who just wanted to move on to the playoffs.

“It’s unfortunate he got caught saying something like that. It came in the heat of the game. He made his apology, and we move forward,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before his team faced the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

Kobe responds to reaction surrounding his gay slur

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

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.