(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant has apologized to a president of a gay rights organization after having been fined $100,000 by the NBA for using a derogatory anti-gay term in frustration over a referee's call.
NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the disciplinary action Wednesday, saying the distasteful words used by Bryant should never be tolerated.
The five-time NBA champion guard cursed and used a homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him Tuesday night in the third quarter of Los Angeles' win over the Spurs. He also punched a chair and threw a towel during the outburst.
Gay rights groups condemned Bryant's actions and demanded a full apology after Bryant issued a statement explaining his words came out of anger. Bryant has 15 technical fouls this season.
"Kobe Bryant's comment during last night's game was offensive and inexcusable," Stern said, according to TMZ.
He added: "While I'm fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated... 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."
On Wednesday, Bryant said his comments were out of frustration and not meant to offend.
"What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period," Bryant said in a statement issued through the Lakers. "The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone."
TMZ reported that Bryant said he planned to appeal the fine during an interview Wednesday with ESPN Radio.
The nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement: "For better or worse, Kobe Bryant has created a teachable moment for the millions of fans -- many of them young -- who saw that outburst on the floor," said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a statement. "And the right thing to do now is to apologize and take responsibility for suggesting that the worst thing you can do to someone is to scream out a gay slur. This kind of homophobic outburst has dangerous consequences, even more so when it comes from a celebrity in the national spotlight."
Bryant later apologized for his actions on the phone to Solmonese, reports TMZ.
"I applaud Kobe Bryant for his swift apology. We had a very sincere conversation in which he expressed his heartfelt regret for the hurt that his words caused," Solmonese told TMZ.