Kobe Bryant Says He's Appealing $100,000 Fine for Anti-gay Slur

Kobe Bryant says he will appeal the $100,000 fine against him for the anti-gay slur he directed at a referee at Tuesday night's game:

Kobe Bryant, talking from Sacramento on the Mason & Ireland show on ESPN 710 Radio in Los Angeles, said the appeal is "standard protocol," but also took responsibility for his choice of words said "out of frustration during the heat of the game."

"The comment that I made, even though it wasn't meant in the way it was perceived to be, is nonetheless wrong, so it's important to own that," Bryant said. He added, "The concern that I have is for those that follow what I say and are inspired by how I play or look to me as a role model or whatever it is, for them not to take what is said as a message of hate or a license to degrade or embarrass or tease. That's something I don't want to see happen. It's important for me to talk about that issue because it"s OK to be who you are, and I do'n't want this issue to be a part of something or to magnify something that shouldn't be."

Audio of the interview is online here.

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued the following statement late yesterday:

“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. 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.”

Bryant makes about $30 million a year.

NBA Commissioner Fines Kobe Bryant $100,000 for Anti-Gay Slur [tr]
Kobe Bryant Statement on 'Fag' Slur: 'I Didn't Mean to Offend Anyone' [tr]
Watch: Kobe Bryant Calls Ref a 'F**king Fag' After Technical Foul [tr]

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  1. OK, that statement is better. But why not just say that using that word is ALWAYS unacceptable because it IS a form of hate. Is he trying to suggest that the f-word has some meaning other than a slur directed at gay people? Granted, if you consider the origins of the word, it was not at first a slang term for homosexual, but I seriously doubt that that archaic usage is still in play. In contemporary America, it has one and only one connotation.

    And appealing the fine rather than just paying it as a way of admitting he was wrong does not help the matter.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 14, 2011 12:05:18 PM

  2. Before all of the bashing goes on, I thought I'd defend Kobe a bit. Sure, what he said was disgusting, but the fact of the matter is that these words are engrained in our society as insults. It is never acceptible, but unlike many athletes or celebrities who come under fire for using the F word, he seems to be taking ownership of it, and saying it's not right, I didn't mean it, people should be who they are, and I made a mistake. I think that's the most you can ask of someone in his position. Whether his are the words of a good PR person or whathave you, he said the right thing, so good for him.

    Posted by: Jon B | Apr 14, 2011 12:07:42 PM

  3. @Jon B What other athletes in the last five years have "come under fire" for using this word? And of those, which have not apologized for it?

    Just asking out of curiosity, because I don't know of any.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 14, 2011 12:12:26 PM

  4. Hey, Kobe: Many get frustrated, yet don't verbally attack random social groups. You're a homophobe & cheapskate. Pay the damn fine and STFU.

    Posted by: Giancarlo | Apr 14, 2011 12:13:05 PM

  5. What an idiot -- how else are you supposed to take that phrase?? Bad enough that he swears in public on camera, but to say that?! Totally clueless, this guy, to not understand how offensive that is.

    Posted by: X | Apr 14, 2011 12:16:06 PM

  6. "And appealing the fine rather than just paying it as a way of admitting he was wrong does not help the matter." - As stated above, the appeal process is automatic, and something everyone does. So it's not out of the ordinary, and doesn't mean he's happy about his behavior. His response seems sincere to me, especially since I've never heard of Kobe hating the gay community or being a homophobe.

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Apr 14, 2011 12:16:41 PM

  7. oh, well if it's ingrained in society, that makes ALL the difference... and, as we've never heard that he's a hater; I'm sure he's not... not a bigot or a hater or 'phobe; that word just accidentally came out of his mouth as he was seeking to insult one guy, he obviously didn't mean to insult an entire group of people. He's probably never even thought the word "fag" in a derogatory way, before. Exemplary human being, he.

    Posted by: Kile Ozier | Apr 14, 2011 12:28:22 PM

  8. How would Kobe feel if someone used the N* word during the game? It's just as bad and just as unacceptable.

    Posted by: FernLaPlante | Apr 14, 2011 12:28:31 PM

  9. I agree with Rick as in so much can we name players who do this ALL the time-I know there are a few..

    Have they been fined 100K?

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 14, 2011 12:28:40 PM

  10. I hear him making excuses "out of frustration during the heat of the game." and having concern that his fans will not take it the "wrong" way.

    I have not heard him say, I'm sorry, or I apologize.

    Posted by: Steve Pardue | Apr 14, 2011 12:29:24 PM

  11. Where does the fine money go? I hope Stern is planning on giving it to gay organizations.

    Posted by: Craig | Apr 14, 2011 12:31:54 PM

  12. @Rowan Just to be clear, I was not saying that Kobe is being singled out. I was saying that I don't know of any other players who have used the word in a public way like he did and would therefore provide a standard for comparison. The only one I know of is Jim Harbaugh (a coach, not a player) and even though he denied having said the word and there was no real evidence that he had, he still took an opportunity to say that using anti-gay slurs was totally unacceptable and that he would never do it.

    What bothers me about Kobe's response is that he seems to be implying that use of the f-word is OK in certain contexts.....instead of saying that it is NEVER acceptable....

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 14, 2011 12:35:26 PM

  13. I gotta say, I've been around long enough that I'm pleasantly surprised by Kobe's statements of contrition, the NBA's statement and fine, and the anger posted here.

    Time was that when anyone called someone else a fag it went unnoticed. The NBA wouldn't have done a damn thing. Kobe wouldn't have felt obliged to backtrack.

    Then there was a time when people did backtrack, did explain themselves, however badly, and the gay community accepted the response whole heartedly.

    I'm glad for the anger from our brothers and sisters about Kobe not wanting to pay the fine. I'm also glad for the evolution I'm seeing here, where a major personality - a sports star no less - eloquently states that it's wrong to say what he said. His response isn't perfect, but good golly, When I was in my 20's, none of this would even be a story. What he said would've been completely acceptable. You and I would have to feel more shame. I'm happy for all of the events that have occured since he started it.

    Posted by: Ken | Apr 14, 2011 12:35:56 PM

  14. Not only should he pay the fine, he should donate an equal or greater amount to GLSEN or the Trevor Project. That would indicate that he is walking the walk. Right now, he is saying what he thinks he needs to say to get out of paying the the fine.

    Posted by: nygardon | Apr 14, 2011 12:51:19 PM

  15. "How would Kobe feel if someone used the N* word during the game? It's just as bad and just as unacceptable"

    Probably like Jackie Robinson or Josh Gibson almost every day they played during their careers. Or more currently, like the President feels when he hears Tea Party types at rallies.

    I don't even like Kobe but these discussions always end up like this. Always.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 14, 2011 1:13:27 PM

  16. @Rick
    "What other athletes in the last five years have "come under fire" for using this word? And of those, which have not apologized for it?"
    Michael Bisping- no apology

    Stephanie Rice - apologized

    Tim Thomas - accused but but denied by Thomas and witnesses who said someone else said it.

    Larry Johnson - apologized

    Drew Gooden - accused but never proven

    Posted by: RW | Apr 14, 2011 1:27:42 PM

  17. @Derrick: When a person who is a member of a group traditionally targeted with slurs or attacks uses slurs or attacks against another traditionally-targeted group, it seems natural to ask him how he would feel if targeted the same way.

    If John Amaechi were saying he doesn't want a deaf player to share his locker room (I'm sure he's got too much integrity to do that), the natural question would be how he would feel if told gays aren't welcome.

    On another note, I just heard Whoopie Goldberg say that these slurs may be okay to say while playing on the street, but that you should be careful when you have a camera on you.

    I admire Whoopie and the strong support for equality she has shown many times, but I'm disappointed she would suggest that anti-gay slurs are acceptable ANYWHERE. (She's gaining some weight. How would she feel if somebody called her "fatso" on the street?)

    Posted by: GregV | Apr 14, 2011 1:38:56 PM

  18. So if I get frustrated and yell the N word, is that forgivable? Are there consequences for that?

    Sorry, Kobe - pay up and take responsibility for your words.

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 14, 2011 1:39:16 PM

  19. Whoopie Goldberg has developed a fondness for defending evil. See: Vick, Gibson.

    Posted by: Wes | Apr 14, 2011 1:45:42 PM

  20. It hurts when it hits the wallet, doesn't it?

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 14, 2011 1:50:49 PM

  21. Kobe Bryant is not behaving like a man, but like an immature millionaire adolescent.

    But while adolescents are naturally immature, Kobe Bryant is deliberately choosing the lowest of the low of behavioral categories.

    What a shame for the African-American community!

    Posted by: Roman Bolliger | Apr 14, 2011 2:08:38 PM

  22. "Probably like Jackie Robinson or Josh Gibson almost every day they played during their careers. Or more currently, like the President feels when he hears Tea Party types at rallies."

    I seriously doubt that Bryant, living today as opposed to several decades ago when the slur was common, would react as Jackie Robinson did. They had little choice but to take it.

    Perhaps some brave NBA player of the white persuasion will test Bryant by calling him the n-word on the court and we can see if he just takes it. I wouldn't bet that he'd exhibit the same control Robinson had to.

    Posted by: BobN | Apr 14, 2011 2:16:51 PM

  23. Bonn: you lost me at the word "brave.". You could have said "equally immature.". He's apologized anyway, though I do hope he will put his money and his actions where his mouth is.
    He could join, promote and donate to the Athlete Allies group. That would be a way of turning a negative into a positive.

    Posted by: Gregv | Apr 14, 2011 2:53:49 PM

  24. "I seriously doubt that Bryant, living today as opposed to several decades ago when the slur was common, would react as Jackie Robinson did."

    Yes, and look how many decades it took for the n-word slur to become uncommon or unacceptable by public figures (Andy, you know how difficult it is for me to use terms like "n-word"? It's like censoring Mark Twain. Oh, my, did I put myself on that level...geeez.)

    It took about 120 years after slavery for the n-word to become unacceptable to American society. The f-word will follow the same route. Incidents like this one and the reaction to it will make it happen, but insulting Black Americans in general aint the answer. All it does is put Black Gays in the difficult position of going to verbal war with White Gays.

    (And please don't ask me why I've started capitalizing "Black, White, Gay". It's improper usage, but if I do it for one group I do it for all. I'm not a bigot...well, I'm not a racist. Bigotry is more difficult to get rid of)

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 14, 2011 3:07:56 PM

  25. Actually, most star players have contracts that force their teams to pay the fines they may incur for misconduct. It's something of a open secret in several sports leagues. Of course, no one's going to go to jail for you, so crime still doesn't pay.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 14, 2011 3:22:44 PM

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