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The conversation: Kobe Bryant's apology not good enough

Kobe Bryant Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant has apologized ("and apologized, and apologized, and apologized," as a newscaster said on CNN Thursday morning) for using an anti-gay slur against referee Bernie Adams during Tuesday's game. The NBA has also fined him $100,000. But is that enough of a mea culpa, especially when you consider his official statement, which didn't take into account the weight of what he said, nor his huge influence.

"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."

So, we should forgive knee-jerk slurs when they happen in the heat of the moment, because presumably people can't control themselves when their adrenaline is pumping? Bryant is a professional athlete -- emphasis on the professional -- and he should have behaved accordingly. He's also a public figure with a responsibility to the city that has embraced him as a hometown hero.

Here's how some have received his apology. (A word of warning: The slur appears in a couple of spots.) The common theme: Not good enough.

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 problem we have now is because of the way we don't address homophobia, the ultimate insult to a man is to tell them either they're like a woman or worse, that they're gay.

We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I've been called a [the anti-gay slur] fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We've got to mirror that progress.

Says the Human Rights Campaign:

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 [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] 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 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.

You need to fix this, Kobe.

In the last 15 years, I've seen Kobe Bryant grow from a snotty kid to a strong and sensible man, but he is still filled with some sharp edges that make him difficult to embrace, and his city felt one of them Tuesday night at Staples Center when television caught him shouting the anti-gay slur known in the gay community as "the F word."

He had just been given a technical foul. He had just punched a chair. He was screaming at official Bennie Adams. He was Kobe being Kobe. […]

Entering the final two months of a journey that could bring him a sixth NBA title -- one more than Magic Johnson -- Bryant is putting the final touches on the legacy of a champion. But because it has been filled with so many bumps and bruises, that legacy remains as fragile as his knees.

Any perception that he is homophobic, especially in Los Angeles, would chip away at his newly strengthened cornerstone while adding to the smoldering wreckage of the days when he was scorned for his recklessness off the court and his selfishness on it.

Bryant's taut personality will never allow him to spend his post-basketball career like the charismatic and influential Magic. But if he wants to maintain his own brand of magic, he needs to show folks that the screaming fool on Tuesday night was indeed not him.

Peter Z. Scheer, who is gay and a Lakers fan, added to the conversation on truthdig:

I don't like it -- at all -- I'm just used to it, and if I got worked up every time someone used the word I wouldn't be able to get a good night's sleep or digest food properly.

But I expected more from Kobe, who is on a life-long campaign to be the greatest of all time and takes a helicopter to work, than the usual [expletive] excuse. It's what Eminem said and it's what children say, too: I'm not talking about gay people. It's just an expression.

The subtext is even more hurtful given that "fag" and "gay" are synonymous in the culture with weakness. Don't be so sensitive.

[…]

The NBA jumped on Kobe after his slur and statement with a $100,000 fine, which Kobe is appealing. I would appeal it, too. Slurs suck, but this is America and I make a living from the first amendment. Besides, I don't want Kobe's money. I just want an apology.

 ALSO:

There go the Lakers

Anti-steroids campaign: A victory because of Barry Bonds

In wake of brutal beating, fans hold key to a safer Dodger Stadium

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant looks to pass after drawing Kings defenders to him under the basket in the first half Wednesday night in Sacramento. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire

 

Comments () | Archives (40)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I PLAY SPORTS

Who cares?!?! It's a physical sport. Verbaly, mentally and physically. Chill out a little people! WE ARE ALL HUMAN..

ShaneFM

Was it wrong!? Yes! Was he out of line? Yes! Should he pay this fine? I think it's extreme, but a fine should be put into place as by the contract all NBA athletes sign and adere to. Should he apologize more to make your homosexual feelings feel better about yourselves? NO! She he start a foundation and/or charity that will campaign with him across the nation to fight against verbal outbursts? No! The last part obviously just a humor shot, but that's kind of where YOU are taking this. Kobe is paying a fine. Kobe has apologized in 3-4 different ways...after the game, on talk radio before the Kings game and after when interviewed- per his request. He stayed in front of it...took the blame..as a hero of the city and a professional star athlete. To continue...doing whatever else you think he needs to do...to make YOU feel better is something you will have to get over!
I'd hate to see the day that you get so frustrated in your life that you act out of line. He's human. Also, I'm not sure if you've ever been in a rough street ball game, but the language is about as fould as you can possibly imagine sometimes. And name calling is suppose to be taken literally. Which unfortunately a lot of liberals don't quite get...for some reason. Go school yourself by watching some White Men Can't Jump and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about because I'm sure your lost as to how somehow can call someone a foul name...but later clap hands after the game. Don't get me started in football.

Mr. PC

I give Kobe a pass on this one. We have all said things we regret. I don't think in Kobe's heart of hearts he hates gay people. He said a word that in today's male macho society is generally accepted. That is a term that is commonly heard whether on the basketball court or at home shooting the breeze with your friends. Is it right what Kobe said or that this term is used? NO of course not, but this is our society that breeds this. If you want to blame anyone, blame the NBA and TNT for allowing a microphone in a highly competitive game . IMO Gay people have the right to be married and be treated equally not just by society but in God's eyes. We have no right to judge any person, only God does. BUT for everyone to get on their high horse (Plashke cough, cough) and condemn Kobe for spewing hate is just wrong. Kobe is a family man, the big picture tells me he's a decent man. Kobe has made his mistakes like any man; but he's human with flaws just like you and me. There are truly hateful and evil people out there, quit trying to find the scape goat to help justify your anger and fears.

StopCryingAbout it

Just because it's kobe bryant people are making a big deal about it.. if it would've been josh smith, or steve blake to say it no one would have noticed..

Hec

Give him a break already. If you ever sat in floor seats, you'd know that during most tough games, everyone is calling each other "b*tch", "p*ssy", "f*g", etc. It's a macho sport of intimidation and trash talk. Players speak this way everywhere from the Staples Center to your neighborhood park court. Is it right? No. But it is what it is and it's everywhere so get off of your high horses already.

Larry Harbison

I had not watched pro basketball in around twenty-years, and am astonished to see how the attitudes have changed. There is a nasty, arrogant, intolerant demeanor personified by Kobe Bryant, and following his lead, LeBron James. I have tried very hard to like these athletes because of their great ability, but it is impossible due to their ugly personalities. And on top of that, Michael Jordan has been broadcasting a Hitler-style mustache, and apparently that is OK with the basketball world, not to mention how Byron Scott wore a tie decorated with the Nazi emblem to a public game without any explanation. Is it any wonder that in this milieu a player thinks its OK to defame people with a different sexual orientation? I do admire the great ability and sophisticated demeanor of atheletes such as Duane Wade and Keven Durant, among many others. Let the haters play basketball somewhere else, but not in America.

rmh

This is getting ridiculous.. GET THE HELL OVER IT!!!!

Nally

I don't think this should be taken this serious. I know that term is very derogatory and should NOT be used at all but everyone says it and NOT to make fun of a certain group but as insult which I can't say it's right but he souldn't be put on the spot for it because he's not the only one. I really don't think he was trying to offend the gay community.

Craige Citron

You know what they say about people who live in glass houses?

What Kobe said was stupid and inappropriate. No question about it. My question is, do all the critics have 100% clear consciences as to their own angry, verbal outbursts? He's forking over $100,000. Lighten up, folks. It's not a hanging offense.

Dick Diamond

And you wonder why a Giant's fan is brutally beaten and no one comes to his aid? Well, that's because the parking lot of Dodger Stadium is where the macho men gather.

Janet

As much as I understand the outrage for what was said by Kobe. Let's everyone remember, this was not said at an interview, before or after the game. It was not said while referring to a gay person. It was said, like many other things we all say, in the heat of the moment, and definitely not meant to hurt anyone of the Gay/Lesbian community. Also, like some other words that we see athletes use very regularly (i.e. M.F.)

Should athletes now stop showing their true emotions while playing a game and play up to the camera, in case it's on them, at all times? When will enough be enough.

One analyst on ESPN indicated that this goes on all the time. We see athletes cursing on the side lines all the time, only now that we can read this one's lips and actually make it out. We are all offended?

Kobe obviously stopped being a role model a long time ago, stop trying to make him one. Last I can remember there is a thing called freedom of speech in this country. As the writers and journalists who sensationalize stories to get attention.

When is an immediate apology not enough? Everyone covering this story now is quick to judge in order to have everyone believe they have corrected anyone around them who may have used the word.

Stop. This is worse than a child falling, but only until we make a fuss about the fall, the child does not cry.

Castigating one person for the word does and will not stop others from saying it now or in the future. I believe this outrage will only cause more homophobic behaviors, not because of what was said, but due to the extreme outrage.

Enough!!! This was in no way directed at the gay community and we all know it.

Choose one.

The supreme court says that the Wesboro Baptist church has the right to say all kinds of nasty stuff about American war hero's in front of friends and family at their own funerals. This is based on the freedom of speech protected in the 1st Amendment. Yet somehow using sexual or racial slurs on a basketball court are taboo and are punishable by huge fines. I wish we could make up our minds in this country which way it's going to be. We must look like idiots to the rest of the world. Personally, I wish everyone would just think before they speak.

Ron

First of all Plaschke you're an idiot. What form of nepotism caused you to have this job. Kobe used an expression derisive to a group when highly frustrated in order to express that frustration. Something we've all done at times if we choose to be honest it about including you Plaschke no doubt. Most of us don't actually harbor prejudice towards any particular group when such a statement is made. Those of us who don't cling to political correctness and hypocrisy understand the context of what was said and accept the realities of living in the real world. I'm Jewish and have been the recipient of many slurs. Did I like hearing them? No. But I moved on without becoming hysterical. Kobe has decried the comment and attempted to put it in perspective beyond the quotes in your article which you would be aware of if you weren't drinking coffee and eating donuts for a living when you're not putting out that dribble you call journalism. Kobe's said enough. Time to focus on another championship.

Elrod Whizzel

Holy Homophobia, Batgirl -
Who ARE you unidentified cretins? Looky here - What Kobe said was unappropriate, but let's put away the cuucifix and nails for a moment. The entire world is getting pretty weary of this sacred cow crap. Where were you when Shaq insulted Yao Ming about his language? Where were you when Bill Mahr called Sarah Palin a c***?

You are not special, you are not anything other than another human being who deserves respect. Get over yourself! Get a life!

4th generation Ca native

Give me a beak . Time to grow a little thicker skin people!

http://kobegames.blogspot.com/

ya i just read an article some ny times writer said kobe should sit out of the first PLAYOFF game because of this 'scandal'. Absolutely ridiculous, and yes stop being so sensitive. Yeah everyone knows he's getting fined for that just like when Shaq cussed on live tv years ago. And imo he had a pretty good apology and explanation on ESPN radio the next day. Well handled, Kobe and way to take responsibility. Anyways check out Kobe highlights and his most classic full games here http://kobegames.blogspot.com/

What Ever

For real? Freedom of speech for people who protest little girls' and American soldiers' funerals but huge fines for speech for yelling insults during basketball? I even agree basketball athletes' behavior have gotten out of hand lately but seeing the over-reaction to this particular incident is plain annoying, and I don't even like basketball.

GLAAD Said What?

Where was the fine and uproar over Kenyon Martin saying it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jgxlPfSr-0

GLAAD don't care?

gern

Kobe Bryant is a punk. Always has been, always will be. Even if he gets that 6th championship ring, he will never be a true "great" of the game like Magic Johnson. Magic and other greats lift up their teammates and elevate the entire franchise. Kobe plays for himself and his teammates suffer at his expense.

What good is fining him? The NBA should ban him for a few matches, see how that gets through to him.

Oh, and when I say "punk" I mean like a punk in prison. That will go well with Kobe's use of f-ggot.

Espinoza43

Let's fine everyone who uses the word. Why, we should fine everyone who calls another the "F" word. After all, its directed to people who don't even know how to discern what nature places before their very eyes every day of their life day in and day out.

Yes, let's let confusion reign and protect it and proliferate it.

Are your children safe from all these commentaries from "sports" writers who are now entering the "social" arena.

ghhugh

Lay off Kobe. He was fined and apologized in his own way.

Work on something more challenging like...How does Bud Selig stay on as baseball commissoner with all the cases of doping players.

Raffi

The apology was worthless. The type of apology a kindergarten kid makes when their parents force them to. He is a homophobic jerk, and it's quite clear that the cult of athlete worshipers just don't care and he can do no wrong simply because he can shoot hoops. If he's made an anti-semitic comment, they still wouldn't care.

Let him apologize like he means it and do some real restitution. A $100,000 fine to the NBA is peanuts to him. Let him make an even bigger donation to a gay group to show he doesn't hate them.

So sad that this hate still exists.

tom

its okay to slander christians and whoever else doesnt agree with their "lifestyle" but if we do it wow get out the bankbook

Tim Branham

. Kobe gets his 15th Technical, one short of suspension. 2.He goes to the bench and screams at referee Bennie f---- f-----. 2 no second technical called. He plays again after in the same game which they win. 3. if second technical is called he sits out the next game and loses 1 games pay approx $300,000 dollars. 4. Lakers lose 1 of the 2 games because Kobe does not play and also
Bynum. They play Portland in the playoffs first round instead of No Chance Orleans. Nothing hinky about this David Stern, Lets see how many games Bennie referee's in the Stables Center again this year. The double system to insure tv revenues seems to still be intact. This is even better then your Blackballing Connie Hawkins.

John Galt

I much prefer Kobe's honest apology than one scripted by the pr office.

Matt

That's exactly why Kobe should not have apologized. An apology is never enough for those trying to advance their social and political agendas.

David

I think that Kobe should find himself a gay partner to truly show his sorrow and solidarity with the gay community. NOT!

Give me a freaking break. If every group that ever gets picked on, either deliberately or inadvertently, were to complain as loudly as the LGBT does every time every real or perceived slight occurs, we'd have a cacophony of whining from everyone all the time. Just chill out, friends of all backgrounds and inclinations, and realize that everyone does and says stupid things, and every individual and every group has had and in the future will certainly have bad things said about them and done to them. The LGBT community (not the individuals themselves--I have several gay friends whom I respect and appreciate immensely) is not the only one to have to deal with society's injustices....they are merely the loudest and increasingly the most obnoxious.

Raffi

But Kobe's an ATHLETE!!! He shouldn't have to abide by the rules of normal society! He has so much testosterone and adrenaline, he should be allowed to eat people's heads as a warm up to a game! He's such a stud, oooh, I love him and he can do no wrong!!

Yes, that's sarcasm. You fans who think anything he does is okay have some serious problems of your own. He gets paid obscenely to run around with a ball. That's great for him, but stop worshiping him and treating him like a big baby.

And David, not that I believe you have gay friends, but if the gay community did not complain so loudly, it would still be a popular "sport" to go bashing gays with baseball bats on a boring Friday night across America.

Brad

Then I guess we should also give Michael Kramer (the actor who portrayed Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld) for his racist outburst while under pressure from hecklers.

How many Kobe apologists are okay with giving Kramer a pass as well?

sfguy3227

Maybe I'm a little cynical these days, but I'm surprised that anyone expects professional athletes to be respectful toward the LGBT community. Many have made clear their homophobia, on and off the court/field/et cetera.

The only thing athletes listen to is money...period. If the money stops, they will say whatever their PR people tell them to say. I think the LGBT community deserves better.

Gary A

He plays a very physical game with lots of adrenalin and testosterone flowing. He didn’t deck anyone or go into a half hour tirade. I consider his 30 second reaction to be forgivable (yes, it was insensitive and offensive, but not unforgivable). What I find offensive is the number of times the networks had to show the clip. I sat in a sports bar for about 30 minutes Saturday and saw it at least 8 times. That’s offensive!

az66

To everyone 'giving Kobe a pass' or telling his critics to 'chill out': I'm sure you are all the kind of people who can only be offended for themselves, but not others... In other words, you only get offended when you're black and someone used the n-word, but not if you're white. You get offended if someone calls out white people for their racist attitudes, but only if you're white. You get offended if someone says something bad about women, but only if you're female. You get upset at immigrant bashing, but only if you're hispanic. But everyone ELSE is just whining, or needs to chill out. I am never surprised at how high the levels of selfishness can rise in society.

Tom, Long Beach, California

enough already....not good enough, well what are you or canyou do about it....thart word gets used all the time...get over it already!

Ann Common

Forced apologies must be resisted. Only an oppressor would demand one and expect it to be sincerely given. I am reminded of Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty-Four when, after “rehabilitation,” Winston finally loves Big Brother.

FinickyOne

And things like these, my friends, is why Kobe never was and never will be a beloved and great Laker like Magic Johnson. He may get one more ring than Magic, but he will never come close to the charisma and joy of him.

carl miller

no excuse for the LAKERS to let this slide - is this what the LAKERS accept as a representatives of LOS ANGELES - and the fine he was hit with - gee, that was equal to taking his lunch money at best - what a sad and pathetic response

az66

ann common: Apologizing for using bigoted slurs is, according you, somehow a piece of Orwellian totalitarianism. Brilliant. I wouldn't exactly run that past your academic advisors as a thesis topic, if you know what I mean (I might as well spell it out for you: that's dumb. Thats what I mean).

glenn grab

quit whining, you're acting like a bunch of sissies, oh, sorry!!

blackaren

Y'all trippin'. Kobe need to fix this. Fix what? Stop making people into gods. They're only human.. And as such have all the flaws and character defects indigenous to humans. Imperfection. Yet 'we' bestow god-like status upon them and cannot figure out why they 'fall short'.Nobody is perfect. No one. If we keep insisting on 'perfection', we're going to be disappointed.And until people realize that there are no gods on Earth--even though we insist on 'making' gods of people we admire.We will continue to point the finger at the failure of 'our gods' to deliver and blame them for their inability to live up to our 'expectations'. Lower the pedestals or lower our expectations? Hey, y'all make the call.

appalled

Give him a pass? Let it go? He fought the fine.

Not that I am surprised by his behavior given his notorious, violent and agressive past. Which he also denied but quietly settled.

This man is a pox on our society. And if we don't hold him responsible and instead praise him and give him a pass, what on earth our we teaching our children about how we treat one another.

If you haven't seen "idiocracy" yet, the overly played message should come loud and clear. But with Kobe at the reins it is probably more truth than fiction.


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