On sitting down when leaving the floor, Bryant punched his chair and threw a towel to the ground. "Bennie!" he yelled. Then he mouthed or muttered the "F" words that got him in trouble.
Gays Red With Rage
Professional homosexual activists turned red with rage over Bryant's comment. The misnamed Human Rights Campaign immediately turned the comment from one of frustration directed at the referee to one directed at all homosexuals. Said HRC:
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 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. Bryant and the Lakers have a responsibility to speak up on this issue immediately. America is watching.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which also fights the idea that homosexuality is a moral abomination (or at least a psychological disorder), was equally miffed. Said its grand panjandrum, Jarret Barrios:
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.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was contrite about the matter. "While I'm fully aware that basketball is an emotional game," he said, "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."
Bryant apologized as well. "What I said last night should not be taken literally," said the 6-foot-6-inch star. "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."
After all that, the homosexual lobby's complexion faded from bright red to healthy pink.
“I applaud Kobe Bryant for his swift apology,” said HRC chief John Solmonese.
We had a very sincere conversation in which he expressed his heartfelt regret for the hurt that his words caused. He told me that it’s never ok to degrade or tease, and that he understands how his words could unfortunately give the wrong impression that this is appropriate conduct. At the end of a difficult day, I applaud Kobe for coming forward and taking responsibility for his actions.
Said Barrios, “The NBA has sent a clear message to sports fans everywhere that anti-gay slurs have no place in the game.”
When such a prolific cultural institution like the NBA speaks out against hateful words, we are reminded that fair-minded Americans are siding with equality for all. This decision will serve as an important precedent that will help ensure a safer, more inclusive environment for fans and players everywhere, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the NBA.
News reports did not say whether Bryant apologized to the referee, Bennie Adams.
Bryant Loses Virtually Nothing
As for Bryant, while the NBA fined him, he won't feel the pain much if at all. Bryant earns $302,515 for each regular season game, the Times reports. His annual salary is about $25 million, the highest in the NBA.
But it isn't just Bryant's mouth that gets him in trouble. In 2003, prosecutors in Eagle County, Colorado, charged the married cager with rape. Bryant claimed the sex was consensual, and in 2004, a judge dropped the charges. Bryant admitted that the woman with whom he had sex did not view the encounter the same way he did: "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual," Bryant said, "I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."
Apropos of Bryant's remarks on the court about Adams, TNT analyst Steve Kerr remarked, "You might want to take the camera off him right now, for the children watching from home."