Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: Kobe Bryant talks about the gay and lesbian community.
Bryant joined ESPN Radio Los Angeles to talk about how frustration got the best of him during Tuesday night's outburst, how he wasn't being serious or literal with his derogatory remark to referee Bennie Adams, how he feels he's taking personal responsibility for his actions despite appealing the fine he received, and, finally, about the Lakers' upcoming challenges as they prepare for a third straight championship run.
How he would explain Tuesday night's unfortunate event:
"Just frustration. Pure frustration. When you're in an emotional game and in the heat of the moment, you have outbursts and you say things. That doesn't mean you mean what you say. But you know, you have emotional outbursts throughout the courses of games."
On what he meant with his comment if it wasn't something to be taken literally:
"Obviously nothing to that effect, which is why I wanted to talk about it. I mean, obviously I issued a statement and things of that nature, but the concern that I have is for those that follow what I say, or [who are] inspired by how I play or look to me as a role model or whatever it is, to not take what was said as something as a message of hate, or a license to degrade, or embarrass or tease. Because that's something I don't want to have happen. It's important for me to talk about that issue because it's important to be who you are, and I don't want this issue to be a part of, or magnify, something that shouldn't be."
What would he say to Bennie Adams if he were sitting here now:
"What would I say to Bennie? That wasn't a damn foul. [Laughing] No, obviously we talked after that... when both of us were a lot calmer. Officials understand that, they understand that you have emotional outbursts throughout the course of the game. It doesn't mean that you actually mean what you say. I don't know Benny; I don't know him from a can of paint aside from the games he refs. So, I think they understand that. We as players understand that when you have outbursts you get penalized for that by getting technical fouls, which I did. So then you just move on."
What he would say to groups that represent gays and lesbians, as well as to gay individuals themselves:
"Well I will be saying something to them, I will be talking to them, because I think out of this, it's our responsibility as athletes and those who are in the spotlight to bring awareness to certain issues. Now, where this stems from? It stems from a negative light, but it's our responsibility to turn this into a positive and try to raise as much awareness as we possibly can and say that's not okay. To insult and disrespect is not the right thing to do. So I will be saying something to them, saying plenty to them. And hopefully we can do some things to try to prohibit violence, prohibit hate crimes and things of that nature, because it's extremely important to do that."
If he will be appealing the fine levied against him today:
"We are appealing it. That's just the typical protocol and what we do. What the response will be, we'll wait and see. But as an individual you have to be responsible for your own actions. The comment that I made, even though it was not meant as it is perceived to be, is nonetheless wrong. So it's important to own that."
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Earlier On Deadspin
Kobe Bryant Calls A Ref Something He Shouldn't