NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Monday, December 14, 2015, 2:27 PM
The NBA referee who was allegedly called anti-gay slurs by Rajon Rondo earlier this month publicly came out Monday in an interview.
“I am proud to be an NBA referee, and I am proud to be a gay man,” Bill Kennedy told 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 said he “wholeheartedly” supports Kennedy’s decision to “live his life proudly and openly.”
“Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage,” Silver said in a statement. “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.”
The NBA suspended Rondo one game after officials, including the 18-year referee, reportedly heard the Kings guard unleash anti-gay slurs after he was ejected from the Dec. 3 loss to the Celtics. The NBA had said Friday Rondo was punished for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner.”
Kennedy ejected Rondo after consecutive technical fouls and instead of leaving the court, the NBA star aggressively followed the referee. According to a game officials’ report provided to Yahoo Sports, Kennedy and referee Ben Taylor heard him spout off “you’re a motherf–king f—-t … You’re a f–king f—-t, Billy.”
National Basketball Referee’s Association general counsel Lee Seham said, “The NBA referees stand by Bill Kennedy for the job he does and who he is. We stand against bigotry in all its forms.”
Rondo had denied to league officials he made those comments, the report said.
Kennedy is the second NBA referee to publicly come out. In 2014, referee Violet Palmer announced she was gay.