clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Moment #46: NBA fines Kobe Bryant $100k for using the word 'faggot'

Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.

NBA, 2011. We had heard athletes use the words 'fag' and 'faggot' before. In 2006, Pittsburgh Steeler Joey Porter called Kellen Winslow a 'fag.' Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen use the same word that year. Detroit Lions President Matt Millen called a former player a "faggot" in 2003. But in 2011 the NBA put a price tag on using the term when they fined Kobe Bryant $100k for calling referee Bennie Adams a "faggot" during a game.

In the past players using the word had been able to dismiss it. Not this time. Not in 2011. And not in the NBA. Bryant rolled his eyes and essentially called people overly sensitive for dwelling on the word. But when the media and fans came down hard on him in the 48 hours after he used the word, he changed his tune. And when Stern slapped Bryant with a six-figure fine, it sent shockwaves through the sports world.

Like few other homophobic acts in pro sports before it, the incident gripped the sports world. And frankly, it just wasn't as bad as many other athletes' anti-gay indiscretions we had seen. On our "Rocker scale," it likely would have registered a 1.5 out of 5. But because of the public profile of the star, his lame excuse, and Stern's swift punishment...it exploded like few we had seen before it.

Bryant eventually issued a heart-felt apology and recorded an anti-bullying PSA. Like Tim Hardaway before him, he is putting his actions behind his apology.

Just a few weeks later, Chicago Bull Joakim Noah was caught using the same word; This time the fine was $50k. Despite the NBA halving Kobe's fine (they had some lame reason about Kobe's slur being directed at an official), the message is still clear: In the NBA, the use of the term will met with a swift, harsh punishment.

For more information: