Jockeying for position in the Western Conference with Dallas, never let it be said the Lakers or Kobe Bryant are simply playing out the string.  In what’s either a case of the hyper competitive Bryant losing his cool, reprehensible hate speech or some combination of the two, Kobe is accused of calling NBA referee Bennie Adams, “fucking faggot” shortly after being hit with his 15h technical of the 2010-2011 season.  From the LA Times’ Mark Medina and Broderick Turner :

The TNT telecast captured Bryant’s outburst during the Lakers’ 102-93 victory Tuesday over the San Antonio Spurs. He hit his seat before sitting, threw a towel and then yelled “Bennie!” before appearing to mutter the homophobic slur. That prompted TNT announcer Steve Kerr to say, “You might want to take the cameras off of him right now, for the children watching from home.”

An NBA spokesman said the league would review the incident, which prompted Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, to release a statement calling on Bryant and the Lakers to publicly address the issue.

“What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching,” the HRC said in a statement. ” 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 perpetuates 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.”

Not to let Bryant off the hook in any way, but this is somewhat akin to Kevin Garnett’s verbal abuse of Charlie Villanueva ; for all the HRC’s talk of an NBA superstar’s “fame and influence”, none of these guys got to where they are by being particularly sensitive or even thoughtful.  The difference is that Bryant’s outburst has been documented and circulated.   It’s not as though Michael Jordan — to this day, a man of considerable fame and influence  — has ever suffered even the slightest dent to his reputation for what he allegedly called Kwame Brown.