Kobe Bryant appears on 710 ESPN to address anti-gay slur
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant appeared on 710 ESPN's Steve Mason and John Ireland Wednesday to address the anti-gay slur he made during the Lakers' game Tuesday against San Antonio, which prompted the NBA to fine him $100,000 and sparked strong criticism from the Human Rights Campaign, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an LGBT advocacy organization.
Below is the transcript of his answers to some questions:
On what led Bryant to yell a homophobic slur to referee Bennie Adams after picking up his 15th technical foul: "It was just frustration. It was the pure frustration. You're in an emotional game and in the heat of the moment you have outbursts. You say things. It doesn't mean you mean what you say."
On using the slur: I obviously meant nothing to that effect, which is why I wanted to talk about it [on the show] and obviously issuing that statement and of that nature. 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 don't want this issue to be a part of something or to magnify something that shouldn't be."
What he would say to Bennie Adams: That wasn't a ... foul (laughs). Obviously we talked after and during the game when both of us were a little calmer. Officials understand that and that you have emotional outbursts during the game. That doesn't mean you mean what you say. They understand that. We understand that as players obviously when you have outburst you get fines and technical fouls like I did.
On what he'd say to GLAAD and HRC: I will be saying something. I plan on talking to talking to them. Out of this, I believe it's our responsibility as athletes and those in the spotlight to bring awareness of these issues. It's coming from a negative light, but it's our responsibility to make it into a positive and raise awareness as much as we can and say it's not okay to insult or discriminate. It's not the right thing to do. I will say something to them and talk about doing things to help prohibit hate crimes and violence. It's important to do that.
On the $100,000 fine: You got to own up and take responsibility for what it is. I'm not going to sit here and say it's not warranted, this, that and the other. It's a judgment call they decided to make and I abide by it. We will appeal it and that's typical protocol. We'll wait and see. But as an individual, you have to be responsible for your own actions. The comments I made were perceived differently than I thought them to be, but they're nonetheless wrong.
On what he thought when he said the gay slur: I was thinking about the game. I wasn't thinking about anything else. I was sitting on the bench and this is a game we needed to win. I was in the moment and the emotions were me being wrapped up in the moment. Having the outburst is totally normal. Hopefully, other players look at what happened with me. When you look at what's going on in the league, there's things that are said that should not be said. Hopefully, they'll learn from this and follow suit.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant on the bench moments before his introduction before taking on the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center April 13, 2011. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times