According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, longtime NBA referee Bill Kennedy has revealed that he is gay. The news broke after Kennedy gave Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo a technical foul for allegedly using a homosxual slur during the Kings game in Mexico on Dec. 3.
On Dec. 11, the NBA handed down a one-game suspension to Rondo after “berating the referee” long after his ejection from the game – he will miss Tuesday’s game against the Houston Rockets.READ MORE: Fallen Tree Blocks Multiple Lanes Of Highway 99 In Lodi
“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Kennedy said in an interview with Yahoo Sports on Sunday night. “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.”
Rondo wrote an apology on Twitter Monday afternoon after denying the request to make a comment in front of the media at practice.
My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period!— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) December 14, 2015
They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) December 14, 2015
Rondo’s apology over social media apparently wasn’t enough for the public to forgive him, so he clarified his statement in a press release on Tuesday.
“Yesterday, I said that my words toward Bill Kennedy were unacceptable and did not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community,”Rondo said in the release. “Some have interpreted my comments as a non-apology. I want to be clear from the bottom of my heart that I am truly sorry for what I said to Bill. There is no place on or off the court for language that disrespects anyone’s sexual orientation. That is not who I am or what I believe and I will strive every day to be a better person.”
Vice President of Basketball Relations and General Manager Vlade Divac made himself available for the media during practice to talk about the situation and later sent a press release out with statements from himself and owner Vivek Ranadivé:READ MORE: WATCH: 5-Year-Old Manteca T-Ball Player's Walk-Up Dance Goes Viral On TikTok
“Rajon’s comment was disrespectful and offensive, and we wholeheartedly disapprove of any language that discriminates or disparages others based on sexual orientation or anything else,” said Divac. “Rajon has apologized and this is not the sort of behavior we condone nor is it representative of the Sacramento Kings organization.”
“Rajon’s comment is not reflective of the culture of the Sacramento Kings organization or the world we want to live in,” said Ranadivé in the release. “He’s apologized, and has been suspended by the NBA. On behalf of the team, I apologize to Bill Kennedy for any harm this may have caused.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver supported Kennedy by releasing a statement soon after the news broke.
“I wholeheartedly support Bill’s decision to live his life proudly and openly,” Silver told Yahoo Sports in a statement. “Throughout his 18-year career with the league, Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage. Those qualities will continue to serve him well both as a game official and as a positive influence for others. While our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”
In Wojnarowski’s report, after Kennedy ejected Rondo with consecutive technical fouls, Rondo “defied league protocol to immediately leave the court and began stalking Kennedy, who had retreated to a far sideline of the floor.”
At the time, it wasn’t certain what Rondo had said to earn the ejection, but his body language was clearly upset. The league investigated the incident and handed down the consequence of the game suspension.
In the game officials’ report used as part of the NBA’s investigation – which includes details provided to Yahoo Sports from National Basketball Referee’s Association general counsel Lee Seham – Kennedy and fellow referee Ben Taylor described Rondo’s post-ejection diatribe as including the statements: “You’re a mother——g f—-t. … You’re a f—— f—-t, Billy.”
Seham reported that a third official, Bennie Adams, outside of hearing distance, “affirmed that Rondo aggressively pursued referee Bill Kennedy and had to be restrained by teammates and escorted off the floor by Sacramento team security.”
The three officials – Kennedy, Taylor and Adams – confirmed those reports in taped interviews conducted by NBA security on Dec. 4, Seham said.
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To read the initial report, click here.