|Los Angles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant|
The Lakers and GLAAD announced a partnership Friday, three days after Kobe Bryant was spotted on a national television broadcast yelling a common homophobic slur in frustration over a referee's call. Bryant was fined $100,000 by the league, and the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history issued multiple apologies.
"We want to reaffirm our commitment to all our fans and our appreciation for the support we receive from all segments of society," Lakers spokesman John Black said. "We also understand the importance of positive messages in helping us convey this. We appreciate the input we've received from GLAAD the past two days, and will look forward to working with them on ways to help educate ourselves and our fans, and to help keep language like this out of our game."
GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said his organization will advocate zero-tolerance policies for anti-gay slurs at sports events, similar to a policy adopted by the New York Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium.
"In light of this slur, there is a real opportunity to build support for our community and educate fans of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the NBA about the use of such words," Barrios said. "The Los Angeles Lakers have taken a positive step, and we look forward to working with them to create messages from players and coaches that combat bullying."
GLAAD said NBA executives also have agreed to meet with the organization to discuss educational tactics for the NBA's young fans.
Bryant cursed and used the homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him during the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night in Los Angeles' regular-season home finale.
Bryant apologized personally to Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, who had issued a statement condemning Bryant's words.
The 32-year-old Bryant is a former league MVP, a 13-time All-Star, the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history and is sixth on the NBA's career scoring list after passing Moses Malone last month. He was the MVP of the last two NBA finals while leading the Lakers to back-to-back titles.
The 16-time NBA champion Lakers open the playoffs Sunday against New Orleans.