In light of Kobe Bryant's anti-gay slur uttered during Tuesday's game against San Antonio, which led to a league-imposed $100,000 fine, the Lakers and the NBA are working with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the advocacy organization said Friday.
"In light of this slur, there is a real opportunity to build support for our community and educate fans of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the NBA about the use of such words," GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said in the statement. "The Los Angeles Lakers have taken a positive step and we look forward to working with them to create messages from players and coaches that combat bullying. We also suggested and will continue to advocate for zero tolerance policies for anti-gay slurs at home games, similar to what the New York Yankees adopted last year."
Barrios is referring to the organization's partnership with the Yankees after video emerged showing Yankees fans shouting an obscene version of Village People's "YMCA" at fans of opposing teams. GLAAD also worked with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) after a Feb. 21 broadcast this year featured wrestler John Cena trash talking to The Rock with homophobic lyrics in a rap song. A week later, Cena joked about "The Miz" and his wrestling partner being a secret couple.
Bryant directed the slur toward referee Bennie Adams in response to Adams' issuing Bryant his 15th technical foul of the season. The slur was caught by the television camera, and later the Lakers star appeared on 710 ESPN's "Mason & Ireland" show and said he planned on meeting with gay rights groups.
“I will be saying something,” said Bryant, who later apologized to the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. The group then praised Bryant for his apology. “I plan on talking to them. Out of this, I believe it's our responsibility as athletes and those in the spotlight to bring awareness of these issues. It's coming from a negative light, but it's our responsibility to make it into a positive and raise awareness as much as we can and say it's not OK to insult or discriminate. It's not the right thing to do. I will say something to them and talk about doing things to help prohibit hate crimes and violence. It's important to do that."
"What happened in Tuesday night's game is not representative of what the Lakers stand for," said Lakers spokesman John Black in the statement GLAAD released. "We want to reaffirm our commitment to all our fans and our appreciation for the support we receive from all segments of society. We also understand the importance of positive messages in helping us convey this. We appreciate the input we've received from GLAAD the past two days and will look forward to working with them on ways to help educate ourselves and our fans, and to help keep language like this out of our game."