Putting Kobe’s Slur in Context

On Tuesday, Kobe Bryant called referee Bernie Adams a “f***ing fag.”

Yesterday, he was fined $100,000 by NBA commissioner David Stern for comments that were “offensive and inexcusable.” Bryant has given his non-apology and is appealing the suspension.

Now, most likely, Kobe isn’t a homophobe. He made a gay slur, but didn’t mean to suggest that Adams was gay or that there would be anything wrong if he was. As Rob Delaney astutely pointed out:

Kobe called a ref “faggot” last night. Apparently he felt the ref’s lifestyle of CONSENSUAL anal sex made him look bad.

But objectively, quantitatively, how bad was Kobe’s comment? Based on public fines in the NBA over the last few seasons, I think I figured it out:

  1. It’s half as bad as conducting improper pre-draft workouts.
  2. It’s twice as bad as saying you want to leave the NBA and go home.
  3. It’s just as bad as talking about the collective bargaining agreement.
  4. It’s twice as bad as saying one of your players used to smoke too much weed.
  5. It’s just as bad as writing a letter in Comic Sans about a former player.
  6. It’s just as bad as saying you want to sign the best player in the NBA.
  7. It’s four times as bad as throwing a towel to distract a guy when he’s shooting free throws.
  8. It’s four times as bad as kicking a water bottle.
  9. It’s 10 times as bad as standing in front of your bench for an extended period of time.
  10. It’s 10 times as bad as pretending to be shot by a guy who once brought a gun into a locker room.
  11. It’s 13.33 times as bad as tweeting during a game.
  12. It’s five times as bad as throwing a ball into the stands.
  13. It’s four times as bad as throwing a towel into the stands.
  14. It’s twice as bad as lying about smelling like weed and having women in a hotel room during the rookie orientation program.
  15. It’s one-fifth as bad as snowboarding.

—Photo AP/Jae C. Hong

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About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.

Comments

  1. Kobe was fined $100,000.00 USD.

  2. Joe Adams says:

    He was fined $100,000, not $10,000…..

  3. Ryan O'Hanlon says:

    That was a typo. It’s fixed. Thanks guys.

    The numbers were still calculated with $100,000.

  4. Hilarious.

  5. SecondBeach says:

    Why are we giving Bryant the benefit of the doubt on being a homophobe? Anyone who is comfortable using that language has at least some bigotry alive and well inside. That doesn’t role off the tongue of someone who truly believes in the humanity and dignity of LGBT people.

  6. First of all, I’m an admitted Kobe hater. Just wanted to get that out in the open for transparency’s sake.

    I’m a staunch proponent of gay rights and I was thrilled when my state became the first to employ some common sense by legalizing gay marriage in 2004. That having been said, I’ve used that terminology before. I admit it. I called some of my friends faggot. One friend, in fact, is gay.

    But here are the differences:

    1) I was amongst friends, and my gay friend doesn’t mind that kind of talk. In fact, he regularly refers to things as gay, meaning “lame.” In short, I knew I wasn’t offending anyone in the group.
    2) We were alone when I said it.

    Kobe is arguably the biggest star in basketball. Not only was he playing in front of tens of thousands of people that night, but he also had millions more watching on TV. And you didn’t have to be a professional lip reader to figure out what he called the ref.

    It’s one thing if you’re a sports star who doesn’t want to be saddled with the responsibility of being a role model. That’s fair. Parents are role models, sports stars are not under the same obligation. But if you’re around that many people with countless others watching from home, you do have an obligation not to use language that spreads bigotry, intolerance and hate. And if you do slip up, at least own up to it. Don’t issue a statement that says “You’re a fucking faggot….but no offense and please don’t take it literally.” That’s bullshit and it’s a cop-out.

    But should we really expect anything else from an (alleged) rapist on the Lakers??

  7. I am also not defending Kobe Bryant, but when I grew up in the 60-70’s, we used the word fag or faggot to describe a kinda geeky, nerd . . . . not to indicate that someone is gay. Now I’m not saying it is OK to call someone geeky or nerdy, but it is a far cry from what the word apparently represents these days.

    Kobe is far younger than I and therefore I can assume he was well aware of what his words meant in today’s environment, but was it the fact that he said f___ing f__, or is even calling someone a f__ without the descriptive curse word, still objectionable? Just trying to learn somehting.

  8. Anonymous Male says:

    I think about it terms of contract and company policy. If it’s in his contract, or in the larger agreement between teams and the NBA, that anti-gay language in a game directed at a ref is subject to a fine, then he’s responsible for breaking the rules. Maybe that clause shouldn’t be in the contract, I can see an argument that that’s unfair, but if he signed a contract with the NBA and that’s the NBA’s rules, well, the man who pays the piper calls the tune.

    For me it’s not about being a role model or being a superstar or being famous or owing something to the community. It’s about being part of an organization that has some rules.

    I’m not a basketball fan, but if I were I still wouldn’t think Kobe Bryant owes his fans jack squat. He doesn’t owe the younger generation anything, in my opinion. But, he works for an organization, and if the organization has a policy of projecting a particular public image, and he does something that breaks the rules of the organization, there are consequences. Being in uniform in a game televised to millions of people means being in a public role for an organization. I say if you’re in the locker room or in a practice closed to reporters, say whatever the hell you want to. If you’re playing a pick-up game of three-on-three in a parking lot, say whatever the hell you want to. If you’re a free agent not signed with a team yet, say whatever the hell you want to.

    A hundred grand is a lot of money in absolute terms. Relative to what he makes, though? What is that, like a day’s wage for him?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] how does this punishment compare with other NBA fines on Stern’s sliding scale? The folks at Good Men Project dug in and figured it out. My favorite finding: The NBA has determined that yelling “f****** fa****” at a ref is [...]

  2. [...] how does this punishment compare with other NBA fines on Stern’s sliding scale? The folks at Good Men Project dug in and figured it out. My favorite finding: The NBA has determined that yelling “f****** fa****” at a ref is only [...]

  3. [...] does the fine for Kobe’s gay slur compare to other NBA fines? It’s one-fifth as bad as [...]

  4. [...] how does this punishment compare with other NBA fines on Stern’s sliding scale? The folks at Good Men Project dug in and figured it out. My favorite finding: The NBA has determined that yelling “f****** fa****” at a ref is [...]

  5. [...] the heels of Kobe Bryant’s recent comments, do you think there’s any homophobia in the [...]

  6. [...] Bryant was recently fined $100,000 for making a homophobic comment to a referee.  Ryan O’Hanlon writing for The Good [...]

  7. [...] in April, Kobe Bryant received a $100,000 fine for directing the same slur at referee Bernie Adams. Noah was only fined $50,000. [...]

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