Kobe Bryant complaining to an official isn’t exactly headline news — it happens just about every game — but Bryant directing a homophobic slur at a referee while TNT cameras catch it all? Well, that’s another story.
After being assessed a technical foul in Tuesday’s 102-93 Laker victory over the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs, Bryant appeared to mutter a homophobic slur in the direction of NBA referee Bennie Adams.
Bryant’s tirade was all caught on TNT’s cameras, as the broadcast of the conference showdown was televised nationally.
Bryant was whistled for an offensive foul as he battled for position with a member of the Spurs. He continued to argue the call as San Antonio brought up the ball before being assessed the technical. Bryant stormed to the bench, hit his seat and threw a towel. He then yelled, “Bennie,” toward the court. When Adams appeared to ignore his call, Bryant leaned back and muttered what appeared to be a homophobic slur.
Steve Kerr, who had the call for TNT, noticed the outburst and remarked: “You might wanna take the cameras off of him right now, for the children watching from home.”
The NBA is looking into the matter.
“The video from Tuesday’s game is under review by the NBA,” league spokesman Tim Frank told ESPN.com in an email.
The technical was Bryant’s 15th of the season, placing him one away from a league-mandated suspension.
“What I said last night should not be taken literally,” Bryant said in a statement Wednesday. ”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.”
The Lakers had no comment.
“We haven’t seen the video, so it would be inappropriate for us to comment on it,” a Lakers spokesperson told ESPN.com.
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