LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- The NBA has fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 for directing a gay slur at a referee during Tuesday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.
It happened during an outburst by Bryant after he received his 15th technical foul of the season.
Game video shows a clearly upset Kobe hit a chair, throw a towel and then yell at referee Bennie Adams, calling him a "f***ing f**got."
Bryant responded Wednesday morning after growing criticism about the remark.
"What I said last night should not be taken literally," Bryant said in a statement.
"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."
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In announcing the fine, NBA issued a statement from Commissioner David Stern. "Kobe Bryant's comment during last night's game was offensive and inexcusable,'' Stern said. "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 N.B.A. know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society,'' Stern added.
One of TNT's announcers, Steve Kerr, noticed, and immediately remarked, "Might want to take the camera off him right now, for the children watching."
The Lakers star could receive a fine or suspension, pending the outcome of an NBA review.
The Human Rights Campaign -- the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group -- criticized Bryant sharply.
"What a disgrace for Kobe Bryant to use such horribly offensive and distasteful language, especially when millions of people are watching," the HRC said in a statement.
Bryant called HRC president Joe Solmonese to apologize Wednesday, expressing "understanding and regret" for his language.
"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. He told me that it's never ok to degrade or tease, and that he understands how his words could unfortunately give the wrong impression that this is appropriate conduct. At the end of a difficult day, I applaud Kobe for coming forward and taking responsibility for his actions."