Los Angles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant is a living legend. But on the night of the final Lakers home game before the 2011 National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs, the 32-year-old basketball superstar was involved in a predicament for which he will certainly not want to be remembered. After being called for an offensive foul, Bryant was administered a technical foul that would cost him $100,000. The fine was so steep because Bryant uttered the words "f**king f****t” under his breath upon taking a seat on the bench. Although Bryant's actions were reprehensible, his punishment is completely outrageous for such a minor exhibit of dissatisfaction.
NBA commissioner David Stern called Bryant's tantrum was "offensive and inexcusable." In response to the fine, Bryant issued a statement saying the comment "should not be taken literally." During a later radio interview, Bryant revealed that such language is second nature to him. "I was thinking about the game. I wasn't thinking about anything else," he said. "Being wrapped up in the moment and having those outbursts is totally normal and hopefully other players look at what happened with me and what I said and understand that."
Bryant shouldn't be reprimanded for something he said in the heat of the moment. His comments were said under his breath and if the camera would not have been directed at him in that split second, then this whole situation could have been avoided. He had no way of knowing that his words were going to be publicized and it is inexcusable for him to pay such fees if the two words he uttered were mere expressions used in a moment of great anger.
Although gay rights organizations such as The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) were angered by Bryant's actions, he expressed a large amount of remorse and an apology should suffice. There is no need to pay a frivolous amount of money to make up for words that caused no harm to anyone. Money is hardly the solution.
I'm not saying it's not hurtful, but since when do we have a right to not have our feelings hurt? In the grand scheme of things, insults are perfectly legal and supposedly protected under the free speech clause of the First Amendment. Being offended isn't worth a thing.
If Bryant is fined for his simple statement, then all examples of cursing and the use of derogatory language might as well be banned in the NBA. Regardless of his popularity and reputation in the league, Bryant should have the same treatment as any other player. There are countless examples of professional players using questionable language or making questionable decisions in the heat of battle. If everything was censored, NBA games would lose their entertainment value altogether.
Myla Sapp. More »