Kobe Bryant’s anti-gay insult was picked up by TV nine years before Thom Brennaman did the same last week

By Joel Alderman

The name Kobe Bryant brings to mind his many outstanding exploits on the basketball courts, but also, unfortunately, an incident nine years ago is being brought up now as similar to the faux pas uttered this past week by Thom Brennaman, a Fox Sports Ohio announcer.

Bryant, who died in a plane crash on Jan. 26th this year, was once fined $100,000 by the NBA for his indiscretion. Now Brennaman has just been indefinitely suspended by the Fox national network as one of its football announcers. The network issued a statement that “we are moving forward with our NFL schedule which will not include Brennaman” and further his remarks were “abhorrent, unacceptable, and not representative of the values of Fox Sports.”

When Kobe Bryant hurled a slur against a referee

Let’s contrast the Brennaman slip of the tongue with how Kobe Bryant reacted at the time he made his remark several years prior.

After receiving a technical foul Bryant went to the bench, threw a towel and then yelled “Bennie” toward referee Bennie Adams to get his attention. Then he called the official not one but two “f” words.

Photo by Don Ryan/AP/Shutterstock

His outburst was seen on TNT, which was showing the game nationally.

Though the sound was not picked up, lipreading clearly shows what he said. Rather than print it here, you may be able to see a video, although on one site it has just been taken down.

NBA Commissioner, David Stern soon after declared, “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. Accordingly, I have fined Kobe $100,000. Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA knows that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

Bryant was immediately repentant, and thereafter expressed that he was opposed to those who spoke against gays. “It’s a struggle,” he remarked. “There’s a long way to go for gays to gain full acceptance. You have to be open-minded.”
Brennaman and the open mic

As for Brannaman, although the replay is hard to hear clearly, several written sources claim his words were picked up by what he thought was a dead mic during the first game of a baseball doubleheader between Cincinnati and Kansas City. He called KC “one of the fag capitals of the world.”

So far he has made two statements of explanation and apology.

“I said something hateful on the air Wednesday night, something no one should ever say. Something that no one should ever think. Something that no one should ever feel. Something no one should ever hear,” began his latest statement, which is published in its entirely by the Cincinnati Inquirer.

“I used a word that is both offensive and insulting. In the past 24 hours, I have read about its history; I had no idea it was so rooted in hate and violence and am particularly ashamed that I, someone who makes his living by the use of words, could be so careless and insensitive.

“It’s a word that should have no place in my vocabulary and I will certainly never utter it again.”

And he issued this message directly to the LGBTQ community:

“I am truly and deeply sorry. You should never be denigrated with crude and hateful language. I failed you, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am.”

The unchanging World of Sports

Two sports people- one an iconic player, another an established TV broadcaster, let some inner emotions escape and be communicated via TV and felt deeply, especially by the LGBT community. Yes, history has a strange way of repeating.

Certainly in the World of Sports.

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