It took me far too long to recognize the importance of what Kobe Bryant did with 140 characters Sunday night. It was a battle in which he had no stake. A fight in which he had no dog. A tweet he could have simply ignored. Instead one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet took a very public stand. "It's the right thing to do," Bryant told ESPN.com's J.A. Adande on Tuesday. "I couldn't help myself. I saw it, I was like, 'I can't help myself. I have to respond.' " On Sunday evening, as Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers were picking up the pieces from a disappointing loss to the Miami Heat, one of his 1.3 million Twitter followers used the phrase "you're gay" to insult another Twitter follower. The exchange showed up in Bryant's timeline, and for some reason he felt compelled to respond.