EL SEGUNDO, Calif.–Kobe Bryant said today what appeared to be a homophobic slur aimed at a referee during Tuesday night’s game “should not be taken literally.”
“My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period,” the Los Angeles Lakers all-star guard said. “The words expressed do not reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were not meant to offend anyone.”
TNT’s coverage showed Bryant appearing to make the comments to referee Bennie Adams while sitting on the bench after being called for a technical foul during the third quarter of a 102-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Audio was not available.
Before Bryant made his explanation today, the Human Rights Campaign, which describes itself as the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, criticized Bryant.
“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching,” the statement said.
“Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT people around the world, but also perpetrates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate.
“Bryant and the Lakers have a responsibility to speak up on this issue immediately. America is watching.”
Video of the game can be seen at TMZ.com