Let me start with this story, it’s a story that broke out last week Wednesday, where Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 dollars for a slur, a homophobic slur. Now, we can all figure out what that is, it was on TMZ.com, I talked about it on the bus ,the day after the incident with a couple of buddies and then he gets fined $100,000. First of all, the NBA did exactly what you have to do, this is how you handle controversy in 2011, quick action, don’t deny it, take your punishment, apologize and it goes away. With a 24/7 news cycle, another story takes your place…in about 18 hours.
Now, I was getting some texts and emails…that it was just a bunch of words he said! Folks, you gotta remember, Kobe Bryant’s words matter more! Like if Pacman Jones says something stupid, he’s Pacman Jones. One of the downsides to being smart and respected is that your words are taken more seriously. I was talking about an author, who is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, his name is Buzz Bissinger, and about 2 months ago, during the NBA All-Star game he wrote a very interesting story. Where he basically asked, Is the NBA losing popularity because none of its stars are white? And I said that if many people in sports said that, it’s not a valid question, I don’t really care! But the fact that a Pulitzer Prize winning, high IQ journalist said it and made good points! [ http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-02-17/nba-all-star-game-white-men-cant-root/ ]makes the story worthy of discussion. And if Chris Anderson – with 19 tattoos, says something ridiculous, we may be shocked at the words, but we roll our eyes.
Kobe is highly educated, well travelled, an ambassador, global, just read what Kobe said last week, when he was on the Maison and Ireland Show Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles last week. If I told you this was a Senator in Illinois or a Senator in Texas….you wouldn’t know the difference between that and Kobe Bryant, because he’s a “get it” guy. “The concern that I have is for those who follow what I say and are inspired by the way that I play or look to me as a role model or whatever it is; for them not to take what was said as something that, to take it as a message of hate or a license to degrade or embarrass or tease you know? Because that’s something that I don’t want to see happen. It’s important for me to talk about that issue because it’s okay for you to be who you are”
The reason why it’s wrong for Kobe to say what he said – and its wrong for anybody to say, but the reason it’s more damaging with Kobe is because actually…we respect him!! Tim Hardaway made an anti-gay slur….and we rolled our eyes!!! Cause Tim Hardaway is a “don’t get it “guy. People, who don’t get it, don’t get that they don’t get it lol. Kobe has always been a “get it” guy, and it’s basically a convergence between a very smart player, a big high profile player, of the highest profile team and we live in an era where if you don’t go out and find Kobe for this and you allow this to be okay…than NBA players use racial slurs?
I’ve said before, I let a lot of stuff go, I let a ton of stuff go and I was telling my buddy the day after this story broke out, that the line has got to be slur’s! If you allow this, from a star player nonetheless, then you’re going to have to allow – in an increasingly diverse global landscape of sports, racial slurs! I mean, baseball has got Latino’s and blacks and Korea’s – can I just go out and make a slur? To a Jewish baseball player? Or an Asian baseball player like John Rocker did a couple of years ago?
So I was getting some emails about the “political correctness”. This is a convergence where the star player that we respect, star franchise, on television…you saw the words and in a way, it’s a sign of respect for Kobe. A guy that we expect more from, like we expect more from Kobe Bryant. Now, I’ve only been in the hardcore sports scene for like 9 or 10 years. I have such a low expectation for the majority of athletes, because there are so few athletes who are talented, bright and thoughtful and it’s more important for those players to keep the other players in line.
I guess it’s one of those things in society – like, here’s the downside, for all you smart guys who matter and smart woman who matter. Whether you’re the principal of a high school or the manager of a sales staff or a doctor…for all you people out there who matter and that are smart. Here is the downside…we’re going to dissect your words because you matter more and you’ve always mattered more and we hold you to a higher level of scrutiny.
So in this instance, I’m a Kobe defender for almost everything but I think the NBA got it right, I think he is NBA royalty – and in this instance, he has to be held to a higher standard!