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

Apr 13, 2011, 6:16 PM EDT

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

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.

  1. goforthanddie - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Yeah, because 100K is going to teach Kobe a lesson. But I guess it’s too close to the playoffs to actually punish him.

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:32 PM

      what do you want to do, shoot him, like Amadou Diallo, get a grip.

    • lakesidelakersfan - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

      It’s not the amount of money involved. It’s the league making a quick determination to hand out a “penalty / fine” that will minimize the public perception that superstars can do as they please without reprecussions.Your implication, if i’m reading it correctly, that a suspension is warranted wouldn’t happen this close to the playoffs in any sport. Don’t hate the player, hate the league(s) for allowing it to run rampant this long.

      • goforthanddie - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:36 PM

        So Herr Stern throws down a 6-figure fine to show he’s serious. How long has it been since Kobe was concerned with 100K? That’s walking-around money for his dog.
        Final result? Herr Stern made it clear Kobe can do as Kobe pleases. And I’m not hating on Kobe, I’m just making the obvious point. No punishment was handed out, Herr Stern has once again run his mouth, and nothing good has happened.

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:48 AM

        This is absolutly ridiculous! You didn’t see womens rights groups or PETA raise an eyebrow when that one referee called Suns backup PG Zabian Dowdell a bi**h what was it, a week or two ago!?!? And Kobe gets fined and it’s a big deal but that ref gets off clean!? I don’t know what i’m more mad about, Kobe getting fined while mafia made man David Stern sweeps one of his goons comments under the rug or the fact people are all up in arms about Kobe dropping that OTHER f-bomb! UUUGGHH! People…

  2. vicktator - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    does lebron get fined for being that distasteful term?

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 13, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      you may get fined for talking about Bron Bron when the article is about Kobe, Stop stalkin

      • cordae - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:22 PM

        Nope, Gloria would just slap fire from you…

    • davidly - Apr 14, 2011 at 4:58 AM

      Their is nothing distasteful about being a fa**ot. Your comment is so gay, I think we know whose poster you wank to before falling asleep under your Bucks, Pistons, or Nuggets blanket. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Let your freak flag fly, *icktator!

  3. ocgunslinger - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    How can we figure out what he/we can’t say if they can’t print it? Did it start with a “C” or an “F”? Another case of PC. All BS.

    • silverguardian - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:17 PM

      ” they’re not saying that they have a problem with homosexuality or homosexual behavior; they just use it to denote behavior they find unacceptable” …

      Umm, exactly how is using a term that denotes behavior you find unacceptable different from having a “problem” with said behavior?

    • silverguardian - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:30 PM

      An effing F would be so much more poetic a term than an effing C. But an effing C draws the term out so much longer. But splitting the syllabic difference … it could have been an effing H

      Darn, the anxiety of not knowing the answers to these important questions …

    • ahemahem - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:57 PM

      Maybe it was Q.

    • silverguardian - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      by the way, ocgunslinger, it started with “F” and was 3 letters long. I saw it played just once before they blacked out his mouth on replays, and it is totally obvious.

  4. metalhead65 - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    well I am sure the pc police are not happy about this.,where is the suspension and mandatory retraining I mean sensitivity training?because we all have to think alike and sound alike right?make sure nobody has any gay feeings I mean hurt feelings about all’s all about free speech unless the tree huggers are offended by it. come on kobe man up and do not cave to them and issue some fake apology. just say yea I said it so what?

    • fearlessleader - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:13 PM

      Metalhead65, surely you’re creative enough to devise a way to reaffirm your manliness without resorting to derogatory and hurtful slurs. Then again….maybe not.

    • cordae - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:07 PM

      And as a role model for MILLIONS of children, what would that have looked like?

      You and LeBron James are the reason people even have JOBS in public relations. I could never understand why people needed to pay other people to think for them, but that just sums it all up. I hate to throw the role model word out there because I feel that parents should set the BEST example for their youth, but lets face it, the U.S. alone has so many broken homes. So who do they (the kids) look up to? The Kobe’s, the LeBrons and mostly any other entertainer in the spotlight. Aside from that, there’s just some things you just dont say out loud, especially on camera. I understand emotions getting the best of us, but some things can be avoided, and that was one of them…

  5. Ryan Karhut - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Wow a moment of weakness by Mr. Ice in his vains. Interesting.

    Kobe Air Balls With Homophobic Slur

  6. silverguardian - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    So Kobe says “The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”

    It is just a bit juvenile to imagine that calling someone ANY name in anger is meant to be taken any way but offensively. In my opinion, just calling the ref an effer should have resulted in the same thing. Now, if he’d just thrown his towel and kicked his chair, we could have tried to swallow that he was mad at himself for his already stupid behavior. Once he directed his anger verbally toward the ref, he deserved being fined.

    I’m not a Kobe hater, but I get so tired of his whining about calls. Maybe the cameras are just on him so often that he’s the one who seems most likely in any game to foul someone and then look shocked, ticked or poorly treated because the foul is called. It’s time for him to grow up and learn how to be a good sport. He isn’t and I begin to doubt his ability to ever learn good sportsmanship.

  7. sirgikal - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    My favorite part about all of this is that if Kobe called the guy a Redneck, it wouldn’t be news at all. Unless of course it showed up on Chelsea Lately so they could all laugh about it. This whole story is so stupid. I realize that he’s a role model and the game was on national tv, but this story shouldn’t have made the news.

  8. cleareye1 - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    His explanation is reasonable, but wimpy. He must stand up and apologize to his team and fans, as well as the gay community as a whole.

  9. bigtrav425 - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    Who caresssssssssssss it was just a few words! people need to stop being such pussies and so politically correct

  10. bonglongdiehigh - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Yeah but rednecks are always proud of that name most of them don’t even realize it’s an insult. Anything that has to do with Kobe and anal sex is going to end up costing Kobe some money. He should know it’s his curse by now

  11. robinowitz - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    A $100K fine (just as the playoffs are starting). Really. Really? $100K is walking around money for Bryant. Stern continues to put band aids on cancer instead of dealing with the root of the disease.

  12. socaldental - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    In my humble opinion it was done, the NBA fined him and next. A suspension for a derogitory slur…are you kidding me. all humor is at the expense of someone or something. Are you going to get rid of all the comics in the world. Youshould hear what they actuallysay behind closed doors in congress and senate. get a grip

  13. Bryce - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    I’m sick and tired of the gay community being a “bloody nose looking for a fist”. Props to Kobe for being one of the most dominate players of the game. He is a competitor and a winner. P.S… I say “gay” all the time.

  14. jcrileyesq - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    If he said it to another player I wonder what the fine would be?

  15. king3319 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Rookie773…lol…thank you!!! Cleareye1…. You’re an idiot!!!!

    • lebronsinsecurity - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      Yeah, thank you cleareye1… for being a mental midget! I’s be willing to bet both of you are around 12 years old.. It’s the only thing that explains the childish behavior.. If not, I feel for ya..

  16. txrbt - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Well … if homosexuality is no longer a bad thing … how can a word for it be called derogatory? He should ask for a refund. :)

  17. jenna9542 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Waaaaa, the gay community wants an apology, how about Hollywood apologize to Christians for using God’s name in vain all the time in their movies? I think that is ridiculous that he had to apologize, what a bunch of babies, grow up!!

  18. bcjim - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Dear author. Get off your high horse.

  19. bringdanoisemik1 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Who cares what he said, those reporters are just looking for something to say about anyone with some fame. It’s unbelievable what the reporter first wrote about this, I don’t know how they can live with themselves being super gossipers! Their soul must feel dirty for having an evil ear and eye! Just messing with famous people’s lives, it’s no wonder they snap and check these reporters and well with dumb laws given to these reporters, they end up more mixed up in the gossip. Some laws need to change and respect the privacy of all people! People need to change also and quit being gossipers themselves!

    Anyway I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that, many of us say words sometimes as part of our slang and just what we grew up around. Just until recently that the gay and lesbian community grew (for some odd reason) is when the word became sensitive, and you have to understand that this community must be super sensitive that they just have to be with their same sex.

    Kobe is like most of us and not a preppy dude all proper with his upbringing going to a paid Christian or Private school, I don’t know for sure but I highly doubt it. He’s a really good basketball player, a decent person most of the time just like most of us. All of you being negative about this, you sports enthusiasts tell me you don’t get hyped up and get mad sometimes at games or even your youths games? You can’t judge someone just for slipping a negative word sometimes while getting frustrated at a game because you do it too! Leave the dude alone and get back and focus on your own life and quit being gossipers!

  20. jenna9542 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    This tolerance political correctness is bullcrap!! I refuse to be a wimp and say something that God almighty says is sin, is okay! Go ahead fine me, put me in jail, kill me, I am afraid of no person, God’s Word is final authority and what it says it says. I call my sin what it is sin, am I a hater for that? No, I am wise enough to know between right and wrong and I am not going to be a wimp and bow to political correctness for anyone! Homosexualtiy is an abomination, and I am sick of homosexuals being more protected than the innocent unborn in this country!! Sin is sin, get some backbone people!

    • silverguardian - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:28 PM

      So if he’d called him an G dam a hole or a “f o o l”, you’d hang him for blasphemy, but any other deprecating term is fine? That is what Christianity teaches us? It is only terms that we are admonished in the Bible not to use, that you think should not be used? But wait. God didn’t say not to call anyone a “f o o l” unless you’re sure he IS one. He said no … just don’t do it. So how does that compute in the mind of the true Christian?

      Somehow, I’d taken that to mean to not call others by deprecating names. I guess you are a better Christian than I, because you have a better grip on what Christians are supposed to do. They are supposed to judge others, call them deprecating words even if those words don’t apply, and do so upon the pain of death because calling each other by names you’ve judged to be accurate is what Christianity is all about. I hear the Rapture in your voice over the idea.

      I’m totally baffled. What Bible verse exactly is it that says that telling others that your neighbor is a sinner is Christian? As I recall it, Jesus didn’t even approve of calling a woman by a name that might in fact be accurate. But you think Christianity is proven by having the backbone to do so?

  21. purdueman - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:45 AM

    Too bad Kobe didn’t call the ref what he REALLY meant to say, i.e., “you butt fuc&er!”. Sorry, but when it comes to gay men that’s not a slur, it’s a way of life.

    • silverguardian - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM

      When it comes to calling someone by any name, it ought not happen on public television, and certainly not by someone who is expected to know the rules of good sportsmanship. Oh wait … no one really believes Kobe will ever understand those rules.

      Sorry. I forgot who we were talking about, obviously.

  22. davidly - Apr 14, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    I thought Scott Thompson had-ahem- laid this to bed years ago:

  23. stinkfingers - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    Look… I hate Kobe and the Lakers as much as the next guy. But 100k is WAY TOO steep of a fine for this.

    Its obvious why David Stern is doing it.. Its because he is also commissioner of the WNBA, and a pretty substantial number of players/coaches/fans of the WNBA are lesbian. That garbage league is barely staying afloat as it is, so Stern isnt really in a position to alienate anyone.

    • silverguardian - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM

      TWENTY years ago, Charles Barkley was fined $10,000 and was suspended without pay for spitting on a fan. I’m pretty sure that was a higher percentage of his income than $100,000 is from Kobe’s.

      I appreciate that you know about them lesbians in the WNBA. Wow, I gotta get my husband to stop watching! I sit right beside him, and I might become tainted.

  24. savocabol1 - Apr 14, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    Well looks like the NBA can become 100k richer after EVERY SINGLE GAME. Players say this word allllllll the time during games. Yet we won’t see anyone else get fined.

    • silverguardian - Apr 14, 2011 at 8:02 PM

      I don’t think we very often hear that word used during a temper tantrum, directed at a ref. Any derogatory name he used at all toward a ref, should be considered unacceptable. Every other player in the NBA gets technicals or tossed out of games for just arguing with a ref, but you think it should be all right for Kobe to use any old name he finds on the tip of his tongue?

  25. davidly - Apr 14, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Can you see what’s happening here? Because some people insist on equating the use of that word with casting aspersion or judgment upon those who have otherwise been associated with the word, a whole load of homophobic nuts have let their attitudes fly on this forum.

    Kobe Bryant was no more calling the referee a homosexual than someone who calls someone else an a-hole actually thinks that the person is a literal anus.

    Clearly there are others in sportsfandom who think otherwise and feel the need to stick up for him as if he had. Get over it. He used a word that has taken on a whole plethora of meanings over the years, and Stern is covering his PR ass. That’s it.

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