NBA referee Bill Kennedy has come out as gay on the same day that a report alleged Rajon Rondo's recent one-game suspension was in relation to the Sacramento Kings star unleashing a "disturbing torrent of anti-gay slurs" during a game Kennedy was officiating.
As first reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the team of officials in charge of the December 3rd game in Mexico City between the Boston Celtics and Kings had relayed Rondo's alleged comments to an NBA investigation on December 4.
Kennedy, who has been refereeing in the NBA for 18 straight seasons, released the following statement on his decision to go public with his sexuality.
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"I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," he said, via Yahoo Sports.
"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."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has since gone on record to "wholeheartedly support" Kennedy's decision to go public with his private life, whilst National Basketball Referee's Association general counsel Lee Seham has also said NBA referees stood behind Kennedy and "against bigotry in all its forms."
Unfortunately, however, that juxtaposes with the circumstances in which the announcement has been made.
Rondo's alleged slur, according to Kennedy and fellow referee Ben Taylor, included the phrase (warning, strong language): "You're a mother------- fa**ot. … You're a f------ fa**ot, Billy."
The Kings veteran has denied making the comments, but was suspended by the NBA for one game on December 11.
With James Collins having received the backing of the league and numerous current and former pros when he came out as gay last year, hopefully the same will happen with Kennedy.
Not since 2011 - when both Joakim Noah and Kobe Bryant were fined for anti-gay slurs - has a player been disciplined for making such remarks and, simply put, there is no place for them in society, on or off the hardwood.