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SBD/April 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship
Kobe Bryant Risks Tarnishing His Brand After Anti-Gay Slur To Referee
Published April 14, 2011
DAMAGE CONTROL: Bryant yesterday issued a statement apologizing for saying the slur, then appeared on ESPN Radio 710 L.A.'s "The Mason & Ireland Show" to further apologize for the incident. Bryant said, "It's important for me to talk about that issue because it's okay to be who you are. I don't want this issue to be a part of something or to magnify something that shouldn't be." He added he plans to speak to gay and lesbian groups because it is the responsibility of "athletes and as those who are in the spotlight to bring awareness to certain issues." Bryant: "Where this stems from, it stems from a negative light. But it's our responsibility to turn it into a positive and try to raise as much awareness as we possibly can to say that is not okay. ... I will be saying something to them, saying plenty to them, and hopefully we can do some things to try to prohibit violence and prohibit hate crimes and things of that nature because it's extremely important to do that" (ESPN Radio 710 L.A., 4/13). Bryant's initial apology noted his comment to the referee "should not be taken literally." He added, "The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone." Bryant later said, "The concern that I have is for those that follow what I say, and are inspired by how I play, or look to me as a role model … they're not to take what was said as something that is a message of hate or a license to degrade or embarrass or tease" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14).