Video replays appear to show Bryant using the slur when he couldn't get Bennie Adams' attention as he came to the bench after getting hit with a technical foul during the Lakers' 102-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Bryant punched his chair before taking a seat on the bench and threw a towel on the court near his feet in frustration after picking up his fourth foul in the third quarter. He got his 15th technical of the season for arguing the call.
"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. "The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone."
If he gets another technical foul in the season finale at Sacramento on Wednesday, an NBA-mandated, one-game suspension would be for the first game of next season.