He may not notice, but Kobe Bryant’s pockets will be a little bit lighter. $100,000 lighter that is.

Yesterday, the Laker shooting guard was fined by the NBA for using a derogatory gay term in reaction to an official referee’s call.

Though Tuesday night was counted as a win for fans at the Staples Center, it was a loss for the basketball franchise’s super star. During the third quarter of the Laker’s final home game against the San Antonio Spurs, referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul against Kobe for disputing his judgment on a previous play.

Visibly upset, Kobe reacted in anger calling Adams a “f*cking f*ggot.” The mouthed slurs were caught by TNT cameras broadcasting the game and by viewers across the country, who were tuning in to see the Laker’s last regular season home game.

In a statement on the incident, NBA Commissioner David Stern said:

“Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable. While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. … 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.”

Gay-rights groups from Los Angeles and across the country have demanded an apology specifically from Kobe and from the Laker’s organization. And so yesterday, the star made a statement meant to clarify the whole affair. Kobe said:

“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 main problem with Kobe’s apology is that it does not acknowledge the problem with using derogatory language in a moment of heat or in casual conversation. The problem with the slurs aren’t that they can be taken out of context, it is that no matter how they are used, they have the potential to be harmful. Furthermore, Kobe’s apology seems to be half sincere- a way of saying ‘its all part of the game’ which is still problematic even if other players feel that way too. Basketball, indeed most professional sports are filled with trash talking, but there’s a line between talking smack and spilling hate.

What do you think of Kobe’s apology, Clutchettes? Tell us what you think!

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  • Haute Style

    What if a white player got upset and called him a ‘nigger’? Would it be part of the game then? Would the fine and NBA’s reaction be too sensitive? Would it be okay because he was angry and upset and used out of context? ‘Faggot’ is a derogatory slur against gays, period. No matter how it’s contextualized, no matter how often so many of our men use it to insult each other. And the NBA is clearly making an example out of Kobe which I commend them for.

    • MW

      I’d argue for appeasement of any offended parties: 100,000 is barely a slap on the risk for someone who makes 25 million a year-

      But I totally agree with you otherwise; we take too many words and attempt to desensitize them, ironic because the driving forces for those words and the power they carry is still very real.

  • He was dead wrong. Not sure why that’s so hard for folks to admit. Certain words (apparently, including that one) carry enough vitriol that we need not consider the source or the intent. Emotional or not–you are not permitted to use homosexual epithets at work. I’m not. You’re not. Kobe’s not. The end.

  • princesse

    i cant even believe that people are trying to excuse such nonsense.Kobeused it as a derogatory term regardless if the ref is gay or not. there are many more foul epithet that are not slurs against women, or gays. why not use those if you must. And the worst thing is that he didnt even apologize. Such nonsense. $ 100,000 that should go to a GLBT program and sensitivity training. because obviously getting a sincere heartfelt apology from the black mamba is too much to ask.

    also let snot forget the young gay black men who watch basketball and feel belittled by such statements coming from their heroes.

    lets demand more from our public figures than just great skills but atrocious attitude.

    • Wello


      how do people expect people that this derogatory word is degrading not to speak up.
      there are too many words in the english language you can use to cuss that aren’t demeaning to people to say its just a word. he’s being doing this for years, he knows better.

      sh*t is my go to word when i want to cuss.

  • are we really having this conversation? im not a kobe fan but this is an overeaction to the MAX. weve all called someone fucking fag/gay/asshole/nigga/bitch/blah blah at least once in anger. it wasnt like the man said it in a middle of a press conference or something. jeez