Longtime NBA referee Bill Kennedy came out as gay Monday, sharing his announcement 11 days after ejecting Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo, who allegedly hurled gay slurs at Kennedy during the game, according to Yahoo.
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——- faggot. … You’re a f—— faggot, 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.”
Rondo was suspended one game for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner,” according to the league. You may recall that in 2011, Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for directing a slur toward a different official on national television. It was an ugly incident for the league, and Bryant later apologized for his remarks, saying he was caught up in emotion. The following season, Bryant showed he had learned from the ordeal when he scolded a fan on Twitter for saying “your gay,” telling the fan to “delete that out ur vocab.”
Whether or not Rondo specifically knew that Kennedy was gay or just using said word as a casual insult (still inappropriate) is tough to say, and according to a league report, Rondo denied making the comments at all. But Rondo was on a Celtics team, coached by Doc Rivers, who reportedly once made similar remarks to Kennedy during a game, as well in 2009. Both were fined for their roles in that run-in. Rivers’s reported remarks to Kennedy were documented by NBC Sports, with support from an NBA observer:
Disgraced referee Tim Donaghy – whose testable claims were widely disproven – outed Kennedy in 2010 and claimed Kennedy held a grudge with Doc Rivers, because Rivers questioned Kennedy’s sexual orientation.
Technically, suspending Rondo for a game means he has to forfeit a game check, roughly $86,300 per his contract, according to Yahoo. However, sitting a player for a game sends a very different message than a commissioner coming out to publicly rebuke a player for his actions. While Adam Silver commended Kennedy’s announcement, he has not publicly condemned Rondo. Perhaps the league doesn’t want to draw more attention to the incident, but considering that Rondo’s act was almost certainly more outlandish than Bryant’s, that number seems light.
Bill Simmons certainly seems to think the NBA finds itself in a hard place here:
And Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich also commented on the situation to The Post’s Tim Bontemps.
Worse yet, Rondo’s teammate DeMarcus Cousins posted an interestingly timed tweet Monday afternoon. This can’t help matters.
Reportedly, Rondo will not be addressing the media Monday. But you get the feeling that an apology of sorts has to be coming soon. Simmons agrees on that, as well.
Update: Indeed, Rondo has issued an apology of sorts (or defense?) on Twitter, though there will likely be more expected of him, as noted by Simmons above.
The Kings, meanwhile, also issued a statement.