Damn you Kobe Bryant! I had a Turtle Ass Award post all ready to go, focusing on a gay forum, and then Kobe had to go and open his big mouth booting my publish ready post out of place for one that is more time sensitive. Because the NBA playoffs start today.
I guess I need to set the stage first. Many readers are from outside the US and don’t follow American sports. Even more are gay guys with a natural aversion to the S word. For the former, the NBA is America’s professional basketball league. Kobe plays for the Lakers, the Los Angeles team (there’s another team in L.A. too, but no one pays any attention to them). For the latter, it’s that sport that uses the big orange round ball and those hoop thingies.
During the game against the Spurs on April 12, with the Lakers – last year’s championship team – battling for the number two spot in the playoffs, Kobe threw a tantrum as only a multimillion dollar salaried NBA star can. Pissed at a ref’s call that failed to recognize Kobe’s greatness, he called the ref a fucking fag.
GLADD and the HRC, both of whom consider themselves the PC watchdog of gay rights, immediately went into battle with each other over the bragging rights for the $100,000 fine the NBA levied against Bryant for his outburst. Which only goes to show you both organizations are top heavy with gay guys. If they’d bothered to ask one of the lesbians on staff – someone who actually knows something about professional sports – she would have told them the fine was due to Kobe dissing a ref, not for using the fag word. The NBA protects their referees like a mother hen, afraid that their lack of impartiality may be called into question. NBA refs make the Olympic figure skating judges look as unbiased and fair as Thucydides.
$100,000 sounds like a lot of money. But to Kobe, it’s not. Between his salary and endorsement deals he cleared more than that in the time it took him to get ‘fucking faggot’ out of his mouth. While other sport franchises around the world are coming down hard on players and fans alike for homophobic statements, the NBA has no objections nor any rules against it. They do have a fine for players who don’t wear a suit coat and tie to the game, but if Kobe wants to come out at half time and yell faggot, that’s cool. As long as he doesn’t do it at a ref.
That may seem wrong to you, but the NBA plays by its own set of morals. Kobe, a star in the league and last year’s MVP winner, ran into a slight legal problem in 2003 for raping a 19-year old hotel employee in Colorado. Married at the time to the girl he began dating when she was only 17, Kobe suffered a minor blow to his reputation, lost a few endorsement – but not all of the multimillion dollar deals – and ultimately paid the girl off so that she would drop the charges against him. The settlement amount was not disclosed, but Bryant evidently got off cheap bragging that a fellow NBA player had paid out more than one million dollars to buy his way out of a similar problem. The NBA took no action against him. But he has faced one-game suspensions in the past for hitting other players in the face. That’s a no-no. The NBA says it’s wrong to beat up basketball players. But okay to rape 19 year old girls . . . she probably was asking for it anyway. NFL Star Michael Vick received an indefinite suspension from playing football for his role in a dog fighting ring. Kobe lost a McDonald’s endorsement for rape. Goes to show you in American professional sports, dogs rate higher than fish.
Kobe, a role model for America’s youth, is popular among NBA fans both on and off the court. This year he attempted to get everyone to call him the Black Mamba, not realizing that stage name was already in use by a male dancer at the gay Nob Hill strip club in San Francisco. His new moniker didn’t stick, but he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not so much for his acting chops in the movie of the same name, but for having the balls to have it released in theaters when it really was a movie intended for the straight to VHS market. But bad movie, homophobic statements, statutory rape, date rape, or even the paternity papers served on him at the Lakers/Magic game this February, to the NBA, Kobe is a star. To the league it is all about money. And giving the fans what they want. And NBA fans want homophobia.
A video taken after the Raptor’s winning game against the Magic went semi-viral on the internet, showing teammates Leandro Barbosa and Reggie Evans holding hands as they sauntered to the locker room. It would have received more airtime on YouTube except it was the Raptors; in the NBA they don’t really count because they’re Canadian. Neither of the players (or the entire team since we are talking about Canadians here) is gay. Their hand holding was nothing more than a bit of male bonding between teammates, perfectly innocent and hardly worthy of note. But NBA fans went crazy, foaming at the mouth and posting comment after comment about the damn queers, faggots, and sodomites invading the world of professional sports. The no-homo gay panic backlash comments on YouTube got so nasty the site disabled commenting on the video. While professional sports figures around the world are beginning to come out, and finding most fans to be quite accepting, the intense homophobic culture surrounding American sports keeps US players firmly in the closet.
It’s surprising how homophobic the NBA is considering not long ago players wore shorts that made George Michael’s Wham-era ball huggers look conservative. Ah, the good old days! This last year the league had a small version of their logo placed on the players’ shorts, center ass. An ill-conceived idea and a bit of unintended irony there. I hope they change the uniforms for next year because that logo really draws your eye and I end up spending more time checking out the fine NBA booty than I do watching the play. But then maybe that’s a good thing.
Kobe apologized for his comment with an insincere attempt, blaming his choice of words on anger. Because if you call someone a fag when you are mad, it doesn’t count. “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,” said Bryant as he eyeballed a cute little 16 year-old sashaying by.
Meanwhile, Kobe is appealing the fine. I guess it’s not the money, it’s the principle . . . and that there is no reason to take responsibility for your actions. The gay blogosphere is willing to forgive, erroneously thinking the $100,000 fine actually means something to Kobe. But, hell, if you’re willing to forgive the man for rape, what’s the big deal about a little three letter word?