The major sports leagues don't have the best reputation when it comes to gay players in the locker room, or gay slurs on the playing field, or much of anything with gay rights these days, really. But Kobe Bryant, in a sudden reversal for himself and perhaps a growing trend for stars in the notoriously conservative NBA, may have single-handedly changed that. In the early hours of Monday morning, in the shadow of the Grammys on Twitter, as all-star week began to bring the spotlight back to his league, the outspoken Laker chastised two fans for using "you're gay" as an insult in at-replies to the newfound Twitter favorite. He then tweeted this:
That's a big step for Kobe Bryant. He hasn't always been this accepting and mature, as one of the fans in the Twitter conversation responded. Bryant once got in trouble for calling a referee a "fucking fag" in the middle of a game in 2011, for which the league fined him $100,000. But this a new Kobe — and a new NBA, it would appear — and Bryant replied that this, in fact, was progress:
So, that's a pretty progressive stance on gay rights — or at least gay slurs — from one of the biggest stars in the NBA. It's also — sadly — one of the biggest supportive statements for the gay community from such a high-profile athlete in any of the four major sports. But it isn't the first step from the NBA on gay discrimination. It's not even the first big step in the last month:
At the very end of January, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried released a video with One Colorado bragging about having two moms, and supporting gay marriage. "I support civil union, because it gives people -- gays and lesbians -- the right to make decisions on their own," he says. "If they want to get married and let them choose who they want to be with."