FanDuel - WFBC

April 14, 2011

Bryant Fined $100,000 for Anti-Gay Slur: The NBA has fined Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant $100,000 for calling a referee a "fucking fag" (video) after he got a technical foul in a 102-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday.

posted by rcade to basketball at 09:34 AM - 46 comments

Suspend him for the first round of the playoffs.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:08 AM on April 14

Good.

posted by apoch at 09:09 AM on April 14

Saw on Twitter (originally by some guy named @robdelaney): Kobe called a ref "faggot" last night. Apparently he felt the ref's lifestyle of CONSENSUAL anal sex made him look bad.

posted by cobra! at 10:05 AM on April 14

That Kobe is a charmer.

posted by bperk at 10:09 AM on April 14

Be nice if he actually apologized instead of telling us how he didn't mean to offend anyone.

posted by yerfatma at 10:45 AM on April 14

But the real fun is seeing people defending him on Twitter.

posted by yerfatma at 10:56 AM on April 14

1. would there have been any fine if this had not been caught on TV? It does not seem that the refs were even aware of it (I may be wrong, haven't read that much on it), because if they were they probably would have T'd him up again.

2. was the fine for the "fucking" part, the "fag" part, or both?

posted by graymatters at 10:58 AM on April 14

I'm hoping for another George Takei video response.

posted by ursus_comiter at 02:44 PM on April 14

Be nice if he actually apologized instead of telling us how he didn't mean to offend anyone.

Eh. Everybody who "apologizes" any more is like a five year old who has an adult standing over them saying, "Now, you apologize!" I wish just one of them would say, "I'm sorry I'm getting slapped for it, but I'm not sorry I said it," or maybe "When I called you a fag, I didn't mean that you were a homosexual, I just wanted to call you a spineless contemptible person, so I figured the word 'fag' was the best fit".

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:59 PM on April 14

It was hard to tell from the video. I couldn't really hear Kobe saying anything. Maybe he called the ref a "fluffy frog". Or maybe somebody was holding up a humorous sign and Kobe was just remarking to no one in particular about the "funny fan". Perhaps it was in reference to a problematic piece of facsimile transmission equipment and he said "fussy fax".

These things can be so hard to discern on Youtube.

posted by THX-1138 at 04:17 PM on April 14

I wish just one of them would say, "I'm sorry I'm getting slapped for it, but I'm not sorry I said it," ...

I used to pine for the day that someone would get caught and admit that he liked it and was only sorry he got caught.

That day arrived.

posted by rcade at 04:28 PM on April 14

Now, Lakers and Phil Jackson have gotten fined. Not for same reason though. Those Lakers just don't know when to keep their mouths shut.

posted by graymatters at 05:15 PM on April 14

...and that goes to show the NBA value system, when an offensive slur is $25k more than a procedural fine for talking about an impending lockout. Stay classy, David Stern.

These things can be so hard to discern on Youtube.

He admitted to doing it, and claimed he didn't mean to offend anyone, but made it clear he said what he said.

posted by dfleming at 05:21 PM on April 14

"When I called you a fag, I didn't mean that you were a homosexual, I just wanted to call you a spineless contemptible person, so I figured the word 'fag' was the best fit".

l_b_b - Do you mean something like this? Maybe it shows a misunderstanding of the basis of the insult, but it's an interesting take (as Louis c.k. normally has).

posted by tahoemoj at 05:44 PM on April 14

He admitted to doing it, and claimed he didn't mean to offend anyone, but made it clear he said what he said.

You get jokes, right? I mean, my post was clearly not serious.

posted by THX-1138 at 06:18 PM on April 14

You get jokes, right?

Sometimes, but others I'm kind of a frumpy fad (when teenagers emulate their elders by wearing "mom jeans").

posted by tahoemoj at 06:35 PM on April 14

l_b_b - Do you mean something like this? Maybe it shows a misunderstanding of the basis of the insult, but it's an interesting take (as Louis c.k. normally has).

Er, what THX said.

Or, for a serious answer...your link is a comedian making funny over the fact that slur names for oppressed groups can become all-purpose insults -- similar to using the term "pussy" to mean weak or cowardly, or saying "you throw like a girl". It's funny in a "wow, aren't we humans exceptionally fucked up and isn't this one egregious example of it" kind of way, but that's really the only humor in it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:33 PM on April 14

I watched a tivo'd episode of Chelsea Lately this afternoon and she ripped into one of her Asian panel guests, reminding him the show is not called "Rasian Ratery," that Asian babies cost more because they are better at manual labor because they have small, stronger hands, and then told him "You know what else you can do with those small Asian hands" and then made a jerking off motion, implying that he had a small penis.

How this show is on the air, how we are allowed to talk like this sometimes but not other times, how people with a straight face make comments about Kobe's character, how this media and these special interest groups come out and "judge" other people as if to imply that they themselves are perfect and then ask for "real apologies," it's seriously beyond me. Meanwhile there are successful shows on cable that eloquate the same hateful type of language as part of a comedic bit. They're not being fined.

This exchange of money, these requests for and issuances of an apology, everything that surrounds it, must be some kind of a charade.

posted by phaedon at 07:46 PM on April 14

I mean, my post was clearly not serious.

Evidently not as clear as you thought.

posted by dfleming at 07:54 PM on April 14

You get jokes, right? I mean, my post was clearly not serious.

To me, it was clear as day, and quite funny. Mind you, I'm not the Spofi Humour Police.

posted by tommytrump at 08:17 PM on April 14

How this show is on the air, how we are allowed to talk like this sometimes but not other times ...

Chelsea Lately is a late-night TV comedian. Bryant is not.

posted by rcade at 09:21 PM on April 14

How this show is on the air, how we are allowed to talk like this sometimes but not other times, how people with a straight face make comments about Kobe's character, how this media and these special interest groups come out and "judge" other people as if to imply that they themselves are perfect and then ask for "real apologies," it's seriously beyond me

This is a topic, or a series of topics, about which volumes of books can and have been written, and so too extensive to deal with comprehensively here. However, here are a few thoughts that may help:

1. You used the phrase "allowed to talk like this". This is misleading and simplistic, because most of the time, it's not the case that you're not "allowed to talk like this" You are allowed to talk like this, in many situations. You don't, however, have some kind of unlimited right to say whatever you want, and not have to deal with the consequences of what you say. These consequences can include any or all of the following:

  • People who previously liked you, respected you, or at least thought you were okay, will now conclude that you're an ignorant bigoted asshole and want nothing more to do with you.
  • People will share with you their own opinions, which may be counter to your own, and which may include the sentiment that you are an ignorant bigoted asshole.
  • Your employer may decide that the presence of an ignorant bigoted asshole is detrimental to workplace morale, or that it gets in the way of selling goods and services to prospective customers whose key decision-makers may have had the poor judgment to be born non-white, female, gay, or who knows what.
If you're not willing to face the consequences of your speech, you are indeed "not allowed".

2. The fact that one ignorant, bigoted asshole expresses his or her ignorant, bigoted assholeism, and appears to get away with it, at least for now, does not invalidate criticism of other ignorant, bigoted assholes. This is particularly true when those who are apparently handing a pass to the first ignorant, bigoted asshole are not the ones criticizing the second ignorant, bigoted asshole. Kobe Bryant was fined by the NBA, which has quite a bit of power to regulate NBA players' conduct. Chelsea Handler is an employee of E!, which is regulated by the FCC. She has been extensively criticized for her racist "humor".

3. If you really want to entrench bigotry, if you want to give it a solid rock to stand on...then keep promoting the idea that no one who isn't perfect can ever call out bigotry. That kind of learned helplessness is exactly what bigots want.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:24 PM on April 14

Chelsea Lately is a late-night TV comedian. Bryant is not.

I'd love it if you actually made a point. That way I could respond. Are you trying to say, it's okay for comedians to call people faggots?

posted by phaedon at 09:25 PM on April 14

Phrases like "entrench bigotry" to me are hilarious.

If you're not willing to face the consequences of your speech, you are indeed "not allowed".

You want to do something about ignorant, bigoted assholism in the NBA, smartypants? Please feel free to find a way to dislodge racist slumlord Don Sterling from the LA Clippers, or at least get Daniel Stern to issue a statement condemning him.

Please don't tell me fining Kobe for using the word "faggot" is some cutting edge policy and I'm giving a hall-pass to bigots. That's you making a bunch of dismissive assumptions about me on your part. Please don't pretend like the world is now better because he's been punished. Like we're one step closer to racial harmony. Hah. Racial harmony. I chuckled writing that.

Of course this is why I say nobody's perfect. Everyone's so quick to judge and call the next guy an asshole.

And, funny, to your point about Chelsea Lately -- Kobe Bryant is more or less an employee of the NBA, which is aired on network television, as well as TBS and TNT, which is also regulated by the FCC. Not sure what you were trying to show there.

So my point is something like, this "solid rock" of bigotry you talk about. It's not on the court; it's sitting on the sideline. The rest of this shit is a charade to keep the ratings of various organizations up.

posted by phaedon at 09:38 PM on April 14

And feel free to respond with something along the lines of, "Don Sterling is a NBA team owner. Bryant is not." I'll be able to read between the lines on that one.

posted by phaedon at 09:48 PM on April 14

I wish just one of them would say, ... "When I called you a fag, I didn't mean that you were a homosexual, I just wanted to call you a spineless contemptible person, so I figured the word 'fag' was the best fit".

I linked to what I thought was pretty much an example of that. I wasn't presenting it as my own viewpoint; it was meant to be an example of the thoughtless nature with which we throw around bigoted words, forgetting the bigoted roots they sprung from.

your link is a comedian making funny over the fact that slur names for oppressed groups can become all-purpose insults -- similar to using the term "pussy" to mean weak or cowardly, or saying "you throw like a girl".

Its comedic value is definitely questionable. It was not meant to insult you or anyone else; I really just thought it was exactly what you had said in the quoted post.

posted by tahoemoj at 09:48 PM on April 14

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:49 PM on April 14

Its comedic value is definitely questionable. It was not meant to insult you or anyone else; I really just thought it was exactly what you had said in the quoted post.

You misunderstand -- I'm not questioning the comedic value. I do doubt, however, that most of those laughing really get it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:28 PM on April 14

phaedon:

You want to do something about ignorant, bigoted assholism in the NBA, smartypants? Please feel free to find a way to dislodge racist slumlord Don Sterling from the LA Clippers, or at least get Daniel Stern to issue a statement condemning him.

"smartypants"? Wow. That's like Tom Cruise in Risky Business calling someone an "a-hole". Seriously, that stings.

Your challenge illustrates the very point that I'm making. You're saying that no effort to combat bigotry is worthy of being made unless it somehow attacks all instances of bigotry everywhere. Clearly, that's an impossible condition to ever fulfill.

So my point is something like, this "solid rock" of bigotry you talk about. It's not on the court; it's sitting on the sideline.

I see. So it can only be in one place. Glad you straightened that out for me.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:41 PM on April 14

I do doubt, however, that most of those laughing really get it.

Agreed.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:31 PM on April 14

it's okay for comedians to call people faggots?

Apparently, plus numerous other names, slurs, etc. And some of them get paid a lot of money for it.

posted by graymatters at 11:34 PM on April 14

"smartypants"? Wow.

Sorry, do you want a more offensive salvo next time? Hah, duly noted. You placed your order at the right restaurant. We have that on the menu.

I'm not trying to have you fill any conditions, lady. I'm just pointing out how much of a funny charade all of this is. This passes as accountability, as I said before perhaps we are inching our way towards racial harmony. I personally don't think that's the case. If you think coming down on Kobe for calling someone a faggot is a good start on tackling bigotry in the NBA, then good for you. All is well in the shire. Slap that man with a fine! Make him apologize in a meaningful way that I think is acceptable! There we go. Bigotry un-entrenched.

Apparently I can't then point out that one of the owners of an NBA team uses discriminatory practices to hire his tenants and humiliaties his black players on a regular basis, and that the NBA remains silent on this issue, oh because that illustrates the very point you're making. Oh that's cute. I'm diluting the issue.

Systematic, entrenched, owner-level racism? No fine, no problem. Essentially, something we all have to live with. One outburst by a really frustrated player using the word 'faggot'? $100,000 fine, a barrage of press releases and universal condemnation.

Well, sorry for chiming in. Have fun coloring in that rainbow of yours, you're doing a great job of staying within the lines. I really feel like we're all moving in the right direction.

posted by phaedon at 01:06 AM on April 15

I'd love it if you actually made a point. That way I could respond. Are you trying to say, it's okay for comedians to call people faggots?

Yes. The court jester gets to say things to the king that would get anyone else beheaded. The transgressive nature of comedy is part of its value. Chelsea Lately's shtick is politically incorrect humor. She's on late-night cable, for crying out loud.

Comments like "I'd love it if you actually made a point. That way I could respond" make you sound like a troll. If you want an angry reaction here, you have to earn it with the point you're making. Don't take shortcuts.

... as well as TBS and TNT, which is also regulated by the FCC.

The FCC only regulates broadcast TV.

The NBA should have dealt with Donald Sterling under the same set of rules it applied to Kobe Bryant. I don't see why this means that Bryant should not have been hit with a heavy fine for embarrassing the league by yelling a juvenile anti-gay slur at a ref. If the NBA doesn't want its players calling people "faggots," I say more power to 'em.

posted by rcade at 07:58 AM on April 15

Kobe is on The Dan Patrick Show right now and is doing a pretty good job of owning his words and being contrite. Whether he really is or not is another matter, but at least he's not speaking athlete-to-the-media.

posted by NoMich at 11:13 AM on April 15

Sorry, do you want a more offensive salvo next time?

I really don't think you need any help in the offensive and dishonest characterization department -- you're doing just fine, making friends and influencing people right and left. If I thought you were amenable to reason I'd continue this conversation, but obviously this is a sore spot sufficient to drive all reason from your head and all civility from your bearing, and continuing to reason with you is a waste of time.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:14 AM on April 15

Kobe is on The Dan Patrick Show right now and is doing a pretty good job of owning his words and being contrite. Whether he really is or not is another matter, but at least he's not speaking athlete-to-the-media.

Yeah, heard the Kobe interview on the Dan Patrick show and Kobe really sounds apologetic to what he said. Great interview by Dan.

5'10"

181

ding!

posted by BornIcon at 12:10 PM on April 15

Yes. The court jester gets to say things to the king that would get anyone else beheaded. The transgressive nature of comedy is part of its value. Chelsea Lately's shtick is politically incorrect humor. She's on late-night cable, for crying out loud.

I have a hard time believe that you - or GLAAD - would be okay with Chelsea Lately cracking faggot jokes on E! But who am I to say what you believe. I certainly think the bluer the joke, the better. I also believe comedy is one of the only remaining uncensored forms of political discourse, so I'm not trying to censor anybody. But sometimes I just don't get how this works. Chelsea Lately can call people Rasians? Michael Richards can't use the word nigger? Is it using the words in the context of frustration that isn't allowed? But if it's part of a joke's payoff, that's cool? Who are these people that make these decisions?

Personally, I think if you're going to make an exception for comedians, might as well make an exception for a frustrated athlete on the court. Not like Kobe got on the mic at a press-conference and starting ripping into gay people, or slandered anyone. Some times people say stupid shit. I guess its hard to draw the line. To me, it's less important than the endemic bigotry that is encapsulated by the powers-that-be that are off-camera. How can you ignore the hypocrisy? Doesn't it make you uneasy?

Kobe pretty much owned what he said, I guess we can argue some details there, but he's no Kevin Garnett. Kobe's human. I really enjoy watching him at Staples Center. His talents are persistent efforts are on par with Michael Jordan. But Jordan was more meticulous with his image, he didn't make any missteps. Really amazing he managed that, in retrospect.

As far as calling "dishonest mischaracterizations" go, I'm not engaging other people on the "ignorant bigoted asshole" level, as far as I'm concerned, you should be flattered I took the time to bother responding to you. Flat-turd. But you reflect the typical laser-guided-pariah-missiles that the media hurls at celebrities. You probably don't have to look past your own family to find someone who calls gay people faggots. I think the next time that happens, you should get that family member to donate a chunk out of their paycheck and take steps towards restitution with the local gay community.

If this were something more than a charade, then I would accept Kobe's fine, and expect the NBA to aggressively pursue the selling of the Clippers to an owner who better represents the behavioral standard the league expects its players to comply to. This is what I would term "proportionate accountability." After all, all this stuff we're arguing about, it's in the name of justice and fairness right? To me this amounts to nothing more than the exploitation of human beings who make minor mistakes while the more serious issues go unaddressed, in a really superficial effort make ourselves feel like we're making progress. If you want to revel in that and say its better than nothing, so be it.

posted by phaedon at 01:43 PM on April 15

I have a hard time believe that you - or GLAAD - would be okay with Chelsea Lately cracking faggot jokes on E!

I see no reason why you'd assume that, given the numerous comedians who revel in intentionally offensive humor. I love inappropriate humor, but there's a time and place for it. I don't see what bearing that has on Bryant saying something in anger.

Who are these people that make these decisions?

Nobody. Everybody. Would Bryant's slur be a story at all without the rapid $100,000 fine? I didn't see a single news story taking offense before the NBA fine.

I think there's some progress in a star athlete getting rapped for calling somebody a "faggot," being contrite and appearing to learn from the experience. The kids who look up to NBA athletes could learn something too. I have to tell my boys not to use "gay" as an insult, because they pick it up at school.

posted by rcade at 02:20 PM on April 15

I guess we can argue some details there, but he's no Kevin Garnett. Kobe's human.

Sure, Kobe's just a rapist whereas Garnett is a vicious shit talker. Makes sense to me.

posted by yerfatma at 02:42 PM on April 15

Michael Richards can't use the word nigger? Is it using the words in the context of frustration that isn't allowed? But if it's part of a joke's payoff, that's cool?

The difference between frustrated bigotry and comedic bigoted comments is the thought involved. If when you get pissed, black people suddenly become niggers. Then, you have some issues to work through. If you are a comedian writing and telling jokes, then you are trying to be provocative and funny. It doesn't really say much of anything about how you really view black people.

posted by bperk at 02:45 PM on April 15

Kobe's just a rapist

Speaking of dishonest mischaracterizations.

I agree with a lot of what Phaedon said. If the camera hadn't been on Kobe, I don't think any of us would even be aware he said it..

That being said, I agree with the fine. I'm glad Kobe owned it and apologized for it (eventually) and I think it's a teachable moment.

posted by cjets at 03:53 PM on April 15

I agree with a lot of what Phaedon said. If the camera hadn't been on Kobe, I don't think any of us would even be aware he said it

Do you really believe that that's the essence of what phaedon said?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:09 PM on April 15

Do you really believe that that's the essence of what phaedon said?

I don't want to speak for him. But if I had to sum it up, it seems as if he is saying that that it's hypocritical to single out Kobe when we see it all over TV and when other offenders (Donald Sterling, in particular) in the NBA go unpunished.

It's a point worth discussing. Compounded by the fact that there is a certain amount of (bad) luck on Kobe's part. If he's not on camera on the bench, I don't think we're even discussing it.

But as I also said earlier, I have no issue with the fine. I think it's appropriate.

posted by cjets at 04:25 PM on April 15

Chelsea Lately can call people Rasians? Michael Richards can't use the word nigger? Is it using the words in the context of frustration that isn't allowed? But if it's part of a joke's payoff, that's cool? Who are these people that make these decisions?

It's context. It's not rocket science. And Michael Richards didn't cross some imaginary line - he fucking bombed and lost it. There's no extra meaning there. He tried to do a character that he couldn't do. It was a mistake.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:26 PM on April 15

it's hypocritical to single out Kobe when we see it all over TV and when other offenders (Donald Sterling, in particular) in the NBA go unpunished

That isn't so much a slippery slope as it is a water slide.

posted by yerfatma at 09:20 AM on April 16

The slippery slope of pointing out hypocrisies? Of asking why the NBA fines its players for slurs, but not its owners?

posted by phaedon at 03:14 PM on April 16

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