Last night Kobe Bryant received his 15th technical foul of the current NBA campaign, and needless to say, he wasn't too happy with it. In his state of rage, he threw a towel and called an official a 'fucking faggot'. Naturally, the media is all over the incident and Kobe has apologized - sort of. In a moment reminiscent of John Kyl's baldfaced lie last week, Kobe simply replied that he "didn't mean it that way". Well how exactly did he mean it?
The word that Kobe Bryant used has a specific negative meaning. It's used to discriminate and emasculate. Teenagers have killed themselves because of being called this very word. Gay people have been incarcerated, lobotomized, sterilized, and tortured by the government in unimaginable ways, and this is a word that brings back a lot of bad memories for victims. Bigots use these slurs on a regular basis to vilify and harass people, in fact I have anti-gay slurs yelled at me fairly frequently. This word hurts and Kobe Bryant should know better.
Kobe Bryant's justification for his usage of a painful term should absolutely not be taken lightly. If he called Omri Kassipi a Kike, folks would be justifiably outraged. Should someone drop the N-bomb on Kobe, he'd absolutely flip his wig, and we would most certainly understand because words do matter.
The NBA needs to take a cue from the NHL in this instance and suspend one of their most marketable talents for abusing an official by calling him one of the worst words in the English language. Chris Simon lost paycheques for calling another man a 'monkey', and Kobe Bryant should sit in the stands and reflect while watching his club lose a few games.
Kobe Bryant's conduct is disgraceful, but it's not unique. By setting a standard that reflects the way in which David Stern wants a professional sports league to be perceived, the game will continue to be distinct from pick-up games where anything goes. It is a privilege to play a game for a living, but being one of the lucky few who do doesn't give you the right to behave like a spoiled child.
It's time to bring Kobe Bryant's foul mouth and inflated ego back to reality.
UPDATE: Due to media pressure, Kobe Bryant was just fined $100 000. It would be impressive to you or I, but he makes over $253, 000 a game not including bonuses or endorsements.