Home > Uncategorized > Kobe’s image, wallet take a hit with one word

Kobe’s image, wallet take a hit with one word

With a poor choice of words at the most unlucky of times, Kobe Bryant will have to enter the 2011 playoffs with a newly acquired blemish on his resume.

The Los Angeles star was caught red-handed by the national lip-readers of America, hurling a homophobic slur at referee Bennie Adams, after Bryant was given a technical foul and sent to the bench.

Clearly frustrated and angered by the referee’s decision, Bryant threw a punch at his seat and launched his towel out of bounds.  Realizing that an opportunity had opened to expose Kobe’s vulnerability, the camera swiftly zoomed into his flustered face, as he fiercely muttered the two consecutive F-bombs towards Adams.

Kobe was fined $100,000 for the incident, and took heat from the press and minority groups who demanded an apology.

There’s no question that Bryant was wrong for using the word.  He dropped one of the two “no-nos”  (F-word and the N-word) when it comes to addressing players and referees, or humans for that matter.   It’s a word that covers a touchy subject, and inevitably stirs controversy while adding insult.

However in a competitive environment where emotions run high, like during a nationally televised Lakers-Spurs game,  profanity-laced rants are not uncommon.  I can’t even imagine what is said at the line of scrimmage on football Sunday, but I believe it’s more explicit than “Hey number 93, you don’t play real well” .  It’s pretty clear that Bryant meant nothing personal, and that the cringe-worthy word he used was delivered out of frustration.  He might as well called Adams a “stupid jerk”, because that was most likely the true intent of his message.

So how do we decide which words deserve $100,000 fines, and which don’t?  Had the camera crew used some better judgement, and focused their lens on the court itself rather than the boiling star-figure on the bench, would this even be a story?  Would anyone even know this happened except for Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff, who remained expressionless while sitting next to Kobe during the exchange?

The fact is that Stern had to fine Bryant. The public knew Bryant had said what he said, not because they heard it, but because the broadcast team brought it to our attention during the broadcast, and that media outlets presented it as a breaking story.  At that point, Stern had the option to fine him, or be labeled as tolerant of anti-gay remarks.

Earlier this season, Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva accused notorious bully Kevin Garnett of calling him a “cancer patient”, referring to his Alopecia that prohibits his body from growing hair.  But unlike Kobe, Garnett’s alleged remarks were not documented on camera, and therefore didn’t earn him a fine.  That’s the case for just about all of the trash that’s talked in a 48 minute contest, where abusive words are dished out with every possession.

There’s no arguing that Bryant screwed up.  He should have known that when your famous enough to go by just your first name, the camera has a tendency to follow you.  With bad timing, a controversial subject and a high-profile celebrity all rolled up into one, it made for good debate, and an attention-grabbing headline.

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