NEW YORK — Veteran NBA referee Bill Kennedy has told Yahoo Sports he is gay after Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo directed a gay slur at him during a game.
Kennedy tells Yahoo he is “proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” adding that he chose to come out in hopes of sending a message “that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”
Rondo was suspended one game by the NBA for directing a derogatory and offensive term toward a referee in the Kings’ game against Boston in Mexico on Dec. 3. Rondo apologized Monday and the Kings said his comments were disrespectful and offensive.
Kennedy is in his 18th season as an NBA official, having worked more than 1,050 regular-season games and five in the NBA Finals.
“I wholeheartedly support Bill’s decision to live his life proudly and openly,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said 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.”
Kennedy worked San Antonio’s home game against Utah on Monday, receiving applause from fans when he was shown on the videoboard with the officiating crew and his name was announced.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich criticized Rondo’s comments before San Antonio’s 118-81 victory.