Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 by the NBA for a gay slur deemed by the NBA commissioner David Stern as “offensive and inexcusable.” Bryant was fined on Wednesday after he was slapped with a technical foul during Tuesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.
Bryant’s outburst was caught on camera on TNT’s national telecast. The video show Bryant, after receiving a technical foul, returning to the bench trying to get referee Bennie Adams’ attention, then apparently mouthing the N word.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bryant issued a statement:
“What I said last night should not be taken literally,” said Bryant, who also punched his chair but hit his teammate instead and tossed a towel in his frustration with the foul call. “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.”
David Stern issued a statement condemning Bryant’s words:
“While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated,” the commissioner said. “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.”
HRC President Joe Solmonese blasted Bryant, “This kind of homophobic outburst has dangerous consequences, even more so when it comes from a celebrity in the national spotlight”. The Human Rights Campaign said Bryant’s “horribly offensive and distasteful” language “perpetuates a culture of discrimination,” and said the player’s statement wasn’t enough.
The two-time defending champion Lakers won Tuesday’s game 102-93 over San Antonio Spurs.