The NBA player whose on-court antigay slur prompted the referee at which it was directed to come out has gay has formally apologized for calling the referee a “faggot.”
Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo received a one-game suspension last week because he unleashed a profanity-laden tirade at referee Bill Kennedy after Kennedy ejected Rondo from a game against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City December 3.
Kennedy, an 18-season veteran NBA referee, on Monday announced that he is “proud to be an NBA referee” and “proud to be a gay man,” noting that he decided to come out publicly to offer support and visibility to LGBT youth who might face harassment intended to “make you feel ashamed of who you are.”
On Monday, Rondo sent out a pair of tweets addressing the incident, which critics quickly noted did not constitute an actual apology.
In the wake of growing public pressure on social media, Rondo issued a more complete statement on Wednesday. On the official NBA website, Rondo stated:
“Yesterday, I said my words toward Bill Kennedy were unacceptable and did not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. 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.”
Kennedy had thrown Rondo out of the December 3 game for technical fouls, and the player “defied league protocol to immediately leave the court and began stalking Kennedy, who had retreated to a far sideline of the floor,” Yahoo Sports reported.
In an interview on Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast, NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained his decision to limit Rondo’s punishment to a one-game suspension, noting that the player had already been pilloried in “the court of public opinion,” according to SB Nation.
“The step from a financial penalty to a suspension, to me, was one that we knew would attract attention,” Silver said Wednesday, according to SBNation. “I don’t think we should be making examples out of anyone. I think that’s why the Players Association exists, as a check on authority of the league. … I think that part of the discipline for Rondo in a circumstance like this comes in the court of public opinion, and that’s something that he has to deal directly with.”