In a New York Times editorial, former NBA center John Amaechi suggested that Kobe Bryant’s popularity has taken quite a hit in light of the anti-gay slur he shouted in a recent game.
Kobe, stop fighting the fine. You spoke ill-advised words that shot out like bullets, and if the e-mails I received from straight and gay young people and sports fans in Los Angeles alone are anything to go by, you did serious damage with your outburst.
Amaechi became the first NBA player to acknowledge he was gay after his retirement in 2003. In the column, the former journeyman suggested that Bryant hasn’t done well enough with his apologies. He admits that he doesn’t believe Kobe is homophobic, but hoped that the Lakers’ star would use his status to spread the message that, even in anger, using those types of slurs are unacceptable.
While Kobe’s non-apologetic statement certainly left him open to criticism, he has since done much more to make amends. In multiple radio interviews, Bryant has been much more contrite and he has also met with LGBT advocacy groups to help with education.
Amaechi’s editorial is likely not the last public opinion we’ll hear about the matter, but it does appear that Kobe is taking steps to make up for his mistake. His next challenge will be to practice what he is now preaching. His temper is sure to be tested in L.A.’s upcoming playoff run, so how he comes out of it will say a lot about whether his behavior has changed.