NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift disciplinary ruling after the Los Angeles Lakers' five-time NBA champion guard cursed and used a homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him Tuesday night in the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Americans, too, face a similar penalty issued by Stern.
First, the NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 on Wednesday for using a derogatory gay term in frustration over a referee's call.
"Kobe Bryant's comment during last night's game was offensive and inexcusable," Stern said. "While I'm fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society."
Then, while Bryant faces the hefty fine on his own, Stern extended his punishment to the entire United States of America, or "society," as he put it, and levied a collective fine of $500 million dollars for similar comments "that I'm sure are made day in and day out in workplaces, schools, shopping malls, and the like," Stern said.
Stern, who is considered by some critics to be overbearing and omnipotent, nonetheless runs a league that is populated by overinflated egos and personalities that need more than a little reigning in at times, and he runs it reasonably well.
The Commissioner will allow the fifty states to divide the fine based on population, but all states must pay the fine in full, collectively, before any citizens are allowed to practice or play in the United States.
Stern's action drew praise from gay-rights organizations that had demanded a fuller apology from Bryant and condemnation of his words by the Lakers, as well as those by "closed-minded individuals everywhere." Bryant, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, issued a statement earlier Wednesday saying his words came strictly out of anger and shouldn't be taken literally. Americans, however, have offered no apologies yet on the subject.
"We applaud Commissioner Stern and the NBA for not only fining Bryant and Americans but for recognizing that slurs and derogatory comments have no place on the basketball court or in society at large," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said. "We hope such swift and decisive action will send a strong and universal message that this kind of hateful outburst is simply inexcusable no matter what the context."
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