Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant issued an apology on Wednesday after being fined $100,000 by the National Basketball Association for calling a referee a gay slur. But not everyone thinks Bryant’s apology is enough, and now the NBA star said he will appeal the fine.
In a game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, Bryant lashed out at a referee, calling him a “fucking faggot” after receiving a technical foul — which was caught on national television.
On Wednesday morning, as video of the slur circulated the internet, the Human Rights Campaign condemned Bryant’s action, and called on the Lakers and the NBC to take action.
“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching,” the HRC said in a statement. “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.”
The call to action prompted NBA Commissioner David Stern to issue a strong condemnation of Bryant’s action and in an unprecedented move, fined the Lakers’ superstar $100,000.
Bryant later issued this apology:
“What I said last night should not be taken literally,” he said. “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.”
“I applaud Kobe Bryant for his swift apology,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese, following a pre-game telephone call Wednesday night. “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.”
But the fallout from Bryant’s action continued on Thursday, and not everyone has been as forgiving as the HRC.
Ex-NBA player John Amaechi, who is gay, told USA Today:
“I suppose that’s the typical, ‘I apologize if you’re offended’ type of comment. I doubt very much when he said that that he thought Bennie was a pile of sticks. There’s only one contemporary meaning for that.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke wrote:
“You called someone a ‘faggot,’ and you say you didn’t mean to offend anyone? That may work in the insulated sports world, but not in a diverse and tolerant Los Angeles that has mostly supported you for your entire adult life.”