Kobe Bryant confirmed in an interview with ESPN radio Wednesday he will appeal the $100,000 fine against him for mouthing an antigay slur at a referee during Tuesday night's game.
Bryant said the appeal is "standard protocol," but told listeners of the Mason & Ireland show on ESPN 710 in Los Angeles that he's taking responsibility for his words.
"The comment that I made, even though it wasn't meant in the way it was perceived to be, is nonetheless wrong, so it's important to own that," the Los Angeles Lakers star 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 or whatever it is, for them not to take what is said as a message of hate or a license to degrade or embarrass or tease. That's something I don't want to see happen. It's important for me to talk about that issue because it"s OK to be who you are, and I don't want this issue to be a part of something or to magnify something that shouldn't be."
Bryant was caught yelling at the referee after he punched a chair on the sidelines. Video showed him mouthing an antigay slur at the referee, but audible confirmation from the bench was not immediately available.
NBA commissioner David Stern called Bryant's actions "offensive and inexcusable." He added, "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 know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society."
Bryant is one of the highest-paid players in the NBA, pulling in nearly $25 million this season.
“What I said last night should not be taken literally,” Bryant said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.”
Bryant scored 27 points in Tuesday night's game, taking the team to a 102-93 win against the Spurs.