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Media MonsterNBA

Why You Shouldn’t Be Shocked About Kobe Bryant’s “Gay Slur” At Referee (UPDATE)


Last night, Kobe Bryant picked up a technical foul during his Lakers’ 102-93 win over the starter-resting Spurs. He wasn’t happy about it, as TV cameras caught (specifically, at the 36-second mark below):

And yes, it does appear that Kobe had some choice words for referee Bennie Adams, including one prominent gay slur. Is this a good thing? Of course not. It would be nice if everyone could treat one another with respect, compete hard but clean, etc., etc.

But it would also be a complete fantasy world. And that’s why, while not condoning it, no one should be surprised at what Kobe said. It reminds us of a discussion on PTI yesterday, in which Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon agreed Charlie Villanueva’s “I will kill that dude” comment on Monday night was really nothing special. In the heat of the moment, comments that would normally be a cause for great concern get uttered all the time.

It also can’t help but remind us of the Villanueva/Kevin Garnett “cancer/cancer patient” flap from earlier this season. If Garnett truly did call Villanueva a cancer patient, of course it was wrong – but it was also in line with psychotically-competitive Garnett we know. Kobe, while not quite as crazed, is a similarly competitive guy, similarly susceptible to the heat of the moment.

So while we shouldn’t just completely brush it off when someone says something like what Kobe appeared to say last night, and we shouldn’t act like it’s a good thing to say things like that, we also can’t be surprised when it happens (and we shouldn’t be surprised we’re exposed to it when we, say, focus the camera on Kobe right after something bad happens). No one reaches Kobe’s level of competitive excellence by being nice – especially not when they feel like they’ve been slighted – and it’s unrealistic to expect that anyone would.

UPDATE 3: Kobe issued a statement on his comments last night. Here’s what we said about it.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a good take on the situation from ESPN’s LZ Granderson (who is gay, for the record). One passage:

[Kobe's comment was] a little deal that lumps in with all the other little deals we let go unchecked because, well, it’s sports. Like snowflakes gathering near the top of a mountain, each is harmless — until there’s an avalanche. Instead of the TNT announcers suggesting the cameras cut away from Kobe’s tirade, it would have been nice for them to denounce what was being said as unacceptable. It’s a slur, not a figure of speech — end of story.

We can’t disagree there. Original update below.

UPDATE: According to TMZ, the NBA is “taking a closer look” at the incident. Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign released the following statement:

“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching.”

“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.”

It’ll be interesting to see if Kobe just tries to let this pass, or actually responds.


  • Snicky

    Amazing how the liberal media is quick to dismiss racial and gay slurs when one of their heroes does it but when someone like Mel Gibson does it? Days of phony outrage.

  • Michelle

    Right on Snicky. Liberal hypocrisy at it’s finest.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y4Y4MD6JPLAPMVM3P57GIQDWKY EricSF

    We after that bigot Gibson too, so your post is incorrect.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y4Y4MD6JPLAPMVM3P57GIQDWKY EricSF

    Michelle – and if someone called you a fat slut, how would you feel.

  • Liquidassets81

    I’m liberal and kind of new to Mediate so I don’t know how liberal they are, but I don’t know anyone who considers Bryant a liberal media hero. I’ve always disliked him and although I live in L.A., I am a Clippers fan mainly because of him. But regardless of his agenda, I’m as disgusted as you at how this writer soft-pedaled any criticism of Bryant. I mean, Bryant’s not a good person, so of course it doesn’t surprise me, but so what? That doesn’t make it any less offensive. “Psychotic competitiveness” doesn’t give anyone a pass, no matter how good or competitive they are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RonPaulDisciple Robert Timsah

    I posted a small article on this with the video and I got a lot of traffic too. But it is rather funny seeing the supposed leftists defend this. I’m not sure if they’re defending it because of white guilt or what.

  • Liquidassets81

    I’m a lefty and I don’t see it as a left/right issue, but whatever, I’m with you on this one. Bryant sucks and this article sucks.

  • Celisary45

    Isn’t Kobe Bryant a RAPIST??????? Must be nice to have FU Money….

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I’m liberal and I don’t dismiss it. I think it’s an outrage the way they’re dismissing it. Just like they dismissed the rape case against him a few years again. Being famous and rich means never having to say you’re sorry. Gag!!!

  • Yana

    This post legitimizes anti-gay speech in a country where gay kids are committing suicide and anti-gay hate crimes happen all the time. “Not being nice” is different from legitimizing anti gay speech. Not to mention there are LGBT players, coaches, and refs….

  • Dr M

    Anti-GBLT rhetoric is so common among athletes, that it seems to be a defense against anyone who thinks any of them are GLBT. Believe me many jocks have had their knobs polished by another man. “They all have these sexual needs.”

  • Dr M

    And, why would leftists care if Kobe Bryant or anyone in sports is anti-GLBT? What does”white guilt” have anything to do with this issue? Kobe is a great basketball player and it is too bad he doesn’t know enough to stop bad mouthing referees. He is a disgrace to the world of sports and has been for years. Big deal!

  • http://twitter.com/DREGstudios Brandt Hardin

    Sounds like Kobe would make a good recruit for Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church I attempted to address their bigotry and insanity with a portrait of the good reverend on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/03/fred-phelps-and-westboro-baptist-church.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

  • Allou

    Kobe at his very finest !

  • Jon79

    If you want to read a great article about Mel gibson, read Genna East on hubpages. The Influence of the Media – Mel Gibson.

  • Rod

    Grown men don’t act this way. Teens (raised by grownups) don’t act this way.


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