What a whirlwind day for Kobe Bryant on Wednesday.
It started with some bad news about his jersey, which was followed by some more bad news in the form of a massive fine for some trash talk gone awry. Thankfully for Kobe and the Lakers, he went back to doing his talking on the court by the evening, ending the day on a high note.
It was a tough start to Wednesday for Bryant, as he learned that his #24 jersey was no longer the most popular among NBA fans after two years on top. Much like his team, Kobe was going for the three-peat, but LeBron James stood in the way of that, taking over first place on the list, according to the LA Times. With the playoffs starting this weekend, the big question will be: if the Lakers make it out of the Western Conference, will LeBron James and his super popular jersey stand in Kobe’s way once again?
If LA ends up playing for the Western crown, there’s a good chance they’ll have to beat the San Antonio Spurs to claim it, which brings us to our next bit of controversy.
The Lakers beat the Spurs on Tuesday night, but Kobe Bryant paid the price after the fact. No, he wasn’t injured (though Andrew Bynum was), but he did end up in some trouble for something he yelled at ref Bernie Adams after being given a technical foul. Bryant punched his seat, threw a towel and tried to get the ref’s attention, before spitting out a “gay slur.” Unfortunately for him, a TV camera caught the whole thing and he was fined $100,000 on Wednesday!
For his part, Kobe said afterwards that he didn’t mean it like that:
“What I said last night should not be taken literally. 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.”
Moving right along, Kobe’s day ended on a much higher note as he put up 36 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a 116-108 win over the Sacramento Kings in LA’s final regular season game. That ensured that his club would finish no higher than his jersey in the final standings, setting up a first round playoff meeting with the New Orleans Hornets.
Thankfully for Lakers fans, it doesn’t look like this referee drama will be a distraction for the team heading into the postseason, since Bryant didn’t waste any time in issuing an apology. It’s certainly not a good time to be stirring the pot like that though!
What do you think: Is a $100,000 fine a tough enough punishment?