NBA referee Bill Kennedy has revealed he is gay in a statement to Yahoo Sports.
“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Kennedy told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. “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.”
Kennedy’s announcement comes after Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo was suspended for directing anti-gay slurs at officials—one of whom was Kennedy—during a Dec. 3 game. After being ejected from the game, Rondo followed Kennedy down the sideline and, according to a game report provided to Wojnarowski, allegedly made statements such as, “You’re a mother------- f-----t” and “You’re a f----t, Billy.”
According to ABC10 Sacramento’s Sean Cunningham, Rondo declined to speak to reporters at practice on Monday.
Rondo denied to the league he made the comments, according to the report. He is the first player to be suspended for using an anti-gay slur. Bulls center Joakim Noah and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant were both fined in 2011 for using slurs toward a fan and referee, respectively.
Kennedy has been an NBA referee for 18 seasons, working more than 1,000 regular season games and 68 playoff games. NBA commissioner Adam Silver supported Kennedy in a statement to Yahoo! Sports.
“I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly,” Silver said. “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.”