Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter of Tuesday's game against the San Antonio Spurs and immediately showed displeasure. While jogging down the court, Bryant spent his time jawing at the officials, and was whistled for a technical foul because of it. But after heading to the bench, Bryant wasn't done as he punched his chair, tossed a towel and threw a tantrum worthy of a four-year-old.
But the story was what Bryant mouthed to one of the officials while on the bench. TBS cameras caught Bryant screaming to an official, following by screaming two words that begin with 'f', the last of which is a homosexual slur. The video can be seen below and the language in question is at about 35 seconds (via Jose3030):
There's simply no excuse for this and Bryant shouldn't receive a pass for being in the heat of competition. He knows cameras are on him at all times, especially after a heated exchange that earns him a technical foul. And just because it was said off-hand, in a moment of anger when he thought nobody was looking, doesn't make it right or acceptable.
It may seem like an overreaction to chastise Bryant, but what kind of example is he setting? People will see the clip above, it will get publicized and those that look up to Bryant will see his outburst. Bryant should face questions about what he said and should own it like a man, though even doing so wouldn't excuse screaming a slur at a referee.
But I'd at least hope Bryant would try and be sincere in owning up to his actions. Having a bad game or a tough day is no excuse for using hate-speech, nor should Bryant get a pass because of his stature.