NBA referee Bill Kennedy has made a statement to Yahoo Sports that he is gay, and proud of it. The revelation came after a December 3 slur aimed at Kennedy from Sacramento Kings point guard Rajon Rondo. At a game in Mexico City between the Kings and Celtics, held as part of the NBA Global Games series aimed at sharing professional basketball with people outside of the United States and Canada, Kennedy ejected Rondo after a string of technical fouls.
After being ejected, Rondo followed Kennedy around the court and was said to have unleashed a verbal barrage.
“You’re a motherf*****g f****t. … You’re a f*****g f****t, Billy,” Rondo’s slur was quoted. Fellow officials Ben Taylor and Bennie Adams confirmed Rondo’s words. The NBA suspended Rondo for one game on Friday.
On Sunday evening, Bill Kennedy spoke with Yahoo Sports.
“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Bill Kennedy was quoted. “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”
Then on Monday, Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, issued a statement in support of Kennedy and his decision to announce that he is gay.
Bill Kennedy has officiated in 1,056 regular season NBA games, 68 playoff games, and five finals games.
General manager with the Sacramento Kings, Vlade Divac, condemned Rondo’s words, as did owner Vivek Ranadive, who also issued an apology to Bill Kennedy in a statement by the team.
Rajon Rondo has tweeted comments attempting to distance himself from the incident. It is reported that he will be sitting out of a game scheduled for Tuesday evening between the Kings and the Houston Rockets in Sacramento.
It took the NBA just over a week to make the decision to suspend Rajon Rondo. On December 4, the three referees who witnessed the abuse made recorded conversations with NBA security personnel. The NBA then asked two “independent experts” to review the evidence collected. The experts confirmed that Rondo had been quoted accurately.
In addition to be suspended for his mean-spirited slurs against Bill Kennedy, Rondo was suspended for following Kennedy around the court after he had been ejected from the game, instead of leaving immediately, as is required of ejected players.
Though he now appears to be taking responsibility for his actions and has issued an apology, Rajon Rondo denied making the comments at all during the week-long investigation by the NBA. Rondo is reported to be expected to earn $9.6 million playing for the Kings this season, he is said to be losing out on $86,300 by missing Tuesday’s game.
In 2011, the NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 after he hurled a derogatory comment about gays at a referee; the same season, Joakim Noah was ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 for directing anti-gay slurs at a fan.
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