During a recent Los Angeles Lakers game on TNT, cameras caught Kobe Bryant calling a referee a gay slur. This slur is a word that is all too common in our society, and has no place in our daily life and especially not on the basketball court.
After reviewing the slur, the league office decided to hand out a $100,000 fine to Bryant.
Critics have pointed to the culture of the league and the fact that countless people curse on the court every night, right in the path of television cameras, as proof that Kobe is being treated unfairly. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.
First of all, Kobe Bryant directed this unrepeatable slur towards an NBA referee. The referees are employed by the NBA, same as the players, and the league has the right to protect the people who work for them.
Most of the time when cursing occurs, it is either incidental or directed towards another player. If it is directed to another player, the referees officiating the game have to right to hand out technical fouls because this is within the jurisdiction of the game.
However, the only thing there to defend the referees is the NBA itself, and it more than reserves to right to do just that.
Second of all, it's not necessarily important that Kobe cursed, it's what he said. The slur that Kobe aimed towards the official was meant to demean him by calling him an inferior "homosexual."
By using the word "homosexual" as an insult, he directly demeans the thousands of LGBT people in society today.
The NBA is a business. Its purpose is to make money for everyone involved. If the NBA takes a stand that discriminating against thousands of people is acceptable because Kobe Bryant is a star, then any bad karma and scrutiny that surrounds the league will only increase.
The last thing that the NBA needs is to have bad karma and return to the desolate times of the Kobe Bryant rape case and the Malice in the Palace.
The NBA spent years trying to build up good feelings, and it does not need to lose these good feelings because Kobe Bryant decided to be fresh with an official.
So why is it acceptable for Kevin Garnett to drop F bombs in every other breath but not acceptable for Kobe to use a common expression? It's unacceptable to let a player demean a group of people.
If a white player went to a black referee and used the N word to demean the referee, I would expect the same action from the league. It is unacceptable for the NBA to condone the discrimination of a group of people, and that's why they needed to act on this.
Think of it this way: imagine you heard that Kobe said, "Man, I feel like a white person, I can't jump anymore." It's a stereotype that white men can't jump; hell, they made a movie called White Men Can't Jump.
However if Kobe Bryant made a direct remark that white people were inferior to blacks, do you think that Kobe would get away with it? Of course not. Whites would be up in arms and call him a bigot and a racist. Kobe's already fragile image may crack.
It's similar to when Josh Howard said that he didn't like America because they hate black people: maybe he isn't totally off, but it's completely inappropriate. After that, Howard's career was ruined.
It's easy to point out the example when it directly affects you. So how can you let this go on when it affects a group of people that has just as much validity as you and wants the same rights and fair treatment that you enjoy?
David Stern and the NBA front office were right to fine Kobe to make sure that issues of discrimination will not be taken lightly.