For those of you who
have been trapped down a well since 1996 don’t follow sports, let me start by saying that Kobe Bryant is a basketball player. And for those of you who are just joining the Tiles party, let me sum up my opinion of said basketball player: possibly the greatest player alive, huge douchebag. I’ve always had respect for Kobe’s game, as his skills have never been in doubt. There’s also no doubt that he’s an asocial, arrogant, spoiled prima donna who unnecessarily and counterproductively alienates those who have made him the star he is– namely, his teammates, his fans, and the media. To be fair, I think the same of LeBron, except for the asocial part. LeBron is plenty gregarious, he just lacks tact and a degree of empathy and self-awareness. But I digress.
On Tuesday night, Bryant’s Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs
seventh- through twelfth-best players, moving them closer to the #2 seed in the Western Conference. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the cameras caught him hurling a very not nice word in the direction of official Bennie Adams, who had just issued Bryant a technical foul.
Now, as anyone who knows me personally can tell you, there are certain words I simply do not say, even in the course of reporting, paraphrasing, or quoting something that has been uttered by someone else. One of these is the “N” word, and the other is the “F” word. No, not “fuck,” you fucking moron. I say “fuck” somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 times per day. I use that shit as punctuation. I mean the other “F” word. Yeah, that one. So, rather than describe Kobe’s tantrum, I’ll let you watch and judge for yourselves (Disclaimer: although the audio of this clip is from a network TV broadcast and therefore perfectly clean, the phonemes which one can decipher by reading Kobe’s lips are decidedly NSFW. Proceed with caution.):
Stay classy, Kobe.
Really though, I’m not all that outraged about what he said. He’s a competitor, he thought the call was unfair, he got caught in the heat of the moment and said something stupid. I get it. After a touch football game, I once called one of my opponents — a guy who clocks in at about 6′ 2″, 2oo and plays rugby just for the thrill of hearing bones creak — a “pussy.” I managed to escape unscathed, but it was a near thing. I’m not proud of it, and I apologized once I realized what a jackass I had been. Sometimes people say dumb shit during the course of competition. I’m not saying it’s OK, but it happens. I get it.
Now what’s Kobe to do? He’s been caught. (Aside: don’t you think that by now he would have realized there are cameras at these games? I feel like he should have been at least CC’d on that memo. Just checking.) It’s obvious to everyone that he said what we all think he said, right? Wait, what? It’s not? As late as Wednesday morning, the official stance of the Lakers organization — via a spokesperson — was as follows:
“We haven’t seen the video, so it would be inappropriate for us to comment on it.”
Awesome. That’s a great stance, Lakers. Just claim that — unlike millions of viewers nationwide who don’t represent the organization — you didn’t see the game. You’re either collectively really stupid or believe that we all are. This stance didn’t last terribly long, however, as by Wednesday afternoon, TMZ was reporting that:
“The Lakers can not confirm that is what Kobe said or not.”
Well, then. Guess that settles that. Just one question, though: do you think that maybe, just maybe, you could look into the matter by — oh, I don’t know — asking one of the ten to twenty other employees of your organization who were within earshot during Kobe’s alleged verbal demonstration of idiocy? Just a suggestion. I like to be solution-focused.
For his part, Kobe would take the guess work out of it for us by
holding a press conference, calmly apologizing, and pledging to make more of an effort to keep his cool in the future releasing a curt statement:
“What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”
Thanks for clearing that up, Kobe. Apparently, you subscribe to the Michael Scott school of homosexual sensitivity. Seriously, that’s it? We’re not supposed to take it literally, as in you don’t actually think Adams is gay, so we should all cool our jets about the whole thing? That doesn’t make it better, you arrogant dick; if anything it makes it worse. Let me break it down for you. You were mad because the ref made what you thought was a bad call. That is, he did something wrong. You chose to express this anger by calling him a word that is used to describe people of a certain lifestyle. In so doing — and then following it up with your garbled, craptacular excuse — you equate his “wrong” action with the group you just injected into the conversation. You used sexuality as an insult, Kobe; saying you didn’t mean it “literally” doesn’t excuse that. In fact, nothing does, so the best move for you is to admit your mistake and ask forgiveness, rather than going with the “I’m not that guy, everybody just calm down” approach.
In response to the video footage, the Human Rights Campaign had this to say:
“Professional sports players need to set a better example for young people who use words like this on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. The LA Lakers have a responsibility to educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”
As for my response, I’ll keep it short: Kobe Bryant, STFU.