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Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for using a derogatory gay term in frustration over a referee's call.
"Kobe Bryant's comment during last night's game was offensive and inexcusable," NBA Commissioner David Stern told the Associated Press. "While I'm fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. ... Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society."
Bryant said Wednesday that what appeared to be a slur aimed at a referee during Tuesday night's game "should not be taken literally."
"My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period,'' the Lakers all-star guard said. "The words expressed do not reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were not meant to offend anyone."
Television coverage of the Lakers-Spurs game showed Bryant storming to the bench after referee Bennie Adams whistled him for a technical foul in the third quarter of the game at Staples Center. Bryant punched a chair, threw a towel, then yelled at Adams.
Audio did not pick up Bryant's words, but TNT announcer Steve Kerr noted, "You might want to take the cameras off of him right now, for the children watching from home."
A league official told ESPNLosAngeles.com that video from the game "is under review" by the NBA.
The Human Rights Campaign applauded Kobe's apology.
In a statement, HRC president Joe Solmonese called it a "teachable moment." He said Kobe told him "it’s never ok to degrade or tease, and that he understands how his words could unfortunately give the wrong impression that this is appropriate conduct."
LA beat San Antonio, 102-93.