A little more than a week after allegedly being targeted with slurs by Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo, longtime NBA referee Bill Kennedy has announced he is gay.
Kennedy came out on Monday, three days after the NBA suspended Rondo for one game for his actions in a December 3 match against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City.
“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Kennedy told Yahoo in a statement.
“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 ejected Rondo from that game against the Celtics and the player responded by charging across the court to berate the official, allegedly using homophobic language in a foul-mouthed outburst.
In announcing its discipline of Rondo on Friday, the NBA said only that the player directed “a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official”.
Rondo denied to league officials that he made the comments.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement to Yahoo in conjunction with Kennedy’s announcement that praised the official for his decision.
“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.”