Kobe Bryant's "offensive and inexcusable" use of a homophobic slur resulted in a $100,000 fine from the NBA and commissioner David Stern.
Bryant, and very likely someone in the Lakers' public relations department, has taken swift action to address the issue. All of that crisis communication aside, though, a $100,000 fine is not a steep enough penalty.
We've all heard the argument, as Bryant himself has said – he was caught up in the heat of the moment – but what kind of excuse is that? You can be angry with a referee's call without using a homophobic slur to express your frustration. There are plenty of words that express frustration toward someone without targeting sexual orientation that Bryant could have used, but did not.
There's also the argument that this kind of thing happens all the time, in the NBA and elsewhere. Does that make it okay? Since when do two wrongs, or in this case several hundred wrongs, make a right?
Bryant didn't just swear at Bennie Adams. Rather, he used an emotionally-charged word that insults an entire group of people based on their sexual orientation. While Bryant has said the word doesn't reflect his feelings toward the gay and lesbian population, I am curious to know what other connotation that word has.
Think for a second about what would come if an athlete used the "n" -word to express frustration toward someone within the game. People would be in an uproar, and rightfully so. Using a word like that, or the word Bryant used, reflects negatively on entire races and groups of people. It's just not acceptable, and there are no excuses.
Because of that, there should be a consequence that fits the transgression in this particular case. A $100,000 fine most certainly does not. Consequences need to have lasting effects. What lasting effect will this fine have on Kobe?
He is the NBA's highest-paid player, and pocketed a cool $24.8 million this season. Considering there are 82 games in the NBA regular season, that means that Bryant makes approximately $302,439 per game.
Kobe played 37 minutes on Tuesday, so he was making $8,174 per minute in the game where he directed the homophobic slur at Adams. With this in mind, how will a $100,000 fine make any difference to someone who can pay that off in less than 15 minutes?
In the 2013-14 season, Bryant is set to make $30.5 million thanks to a hefty contract extension, making him the first player to earn more than $30 million since Michael Jordan in the 1997-98 season. I hardly think this $100,000 sends a strong enough message. He won't even notice that money is gone. Not to mention, Bryant is appealing the fine. Yes, appealing.
Why is he appealing the fine? It's certainly not because he can't afford to pay it, which would beg the question, does he not think his action was deserving of this fine? Why would he bother to apologize and claim to take responsibility for his actions if he was going to appeal the punishment he received? Doesn't seem to make much sense.
Kobe Bryant hasn't learned a lesson about the harm done through using a homophobic slur, which is clearly evidenced by his appeal. This is exactly why a harsher penalty is necessary in this case. A message needs to be sent — that the NBA won't tolerate this kind of behavior.
If Bryant can talk about how he wants to "kill the word" he used, then maybe he shouldn't appeal to the NBA for trying to do just that.
Do you think Kobe Bryant's fine is appropriate for his transgression, or do you think he should have been fined more or had a harsher penalty? Share your thoughts below.