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Friday, February 28, 2020

John Amaechi Compares Kobe’s Gay Slur to Use of N-Word

Kobe Bryant got into a serious amount of trouble in a short amount of time after calling referee Bennie Adams a “F—ing F—–” during a Lakers game Tuesday night. He had human rights groups after him, Gay and Lesbian rights groups after him, and the NBA fined him $100,000 for his actions. Initially, Kobe stuck by his words and did not apologize, but later he owned his comments and recognized they were wrong.

Even though Kobe apologized and understood what was wrong about what he did, it didn’t stop John Amaechi from sharing his opinion. Amaechi is an openly gay former NBA player and he talked about Kobe’s outburst both with USA Today and The New York Times.

Talking to USA Today, Amaechi said “We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I’ve been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We’ve got to mirror that progress.”

In his column for The New York Times, Amaechi said he didn’t think Kobe was a homophobe, but that as one of the top and most influential athletic figures in the world, he can’t set the example that that sort of language is acceptable. I agree with Amaechi on both accounts.

Even though I’ve defended the field of play as an athlete’s sanctuary that should not be invaded by television cameras and microphones, I felt what Kobe said was wrong for many reasons. Kobe specifically addressed the referee and yelled at him, so it was intentional, not necessarily in the heat of the moment. And just because it’s become commonplace in our language and just because its gone unpunished all these other times doesn’t mean it was OK any time it was said in the past. It’s never acceptable to use that word in the same way that any other slur towards a minority group is unacceptable. It’s that simple, and I’m glad a powerful voice like John Amaechi said so.

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