Veteran NBA Official Comes Out As Gay
He may not be the most high-profile person on an NBA court, but official Bill Kennedy is now the one making headlines. On Sunday night, the veteran official came out as gay.
Kennedy is the third official in professional sports, and the second in basketball, to come out.
His revelation came after Sacramento Kings guard, Rajon Rondo went after Kennedy in an expletive-laced tirade two weeks ago. Yahoo! Sports revealed that the context of Rondo’s rant allegedly contained homophobic slurs.
During the Kings loss to the Boston Celtics on December 3 in Mexico City, Kennedy ejected Rondo from the game after the point guard had been called for two back-to-back technical fouls. Instead of leaving the court, Rondo followed Kennedy, where he proceeded to harangue him. Before being restrained by teammates, Rondo allegedly said to Kennedy, “You’re a mother——- faggot. … You’re a f—— faggot, Billy,” according to the officials’ report released by National Basketball Referee’s Association general counsel Lee Seham to Yahoo! Sports. Rondo was suspended one game for the incident.
Kennedy told Yahoo! Sports Sunday, “I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man. 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 in response to Kennedy’s decision, “I wholeheartedly support Bill’s decision to live his life proudly and openly,” adding that, “While our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”
Twitter erupted in support for Kennedy, while some were slow to vilify Rondo believing he may not have known Kennedy was gay at the time of the incident. Even still, this does not excuse his use of homophobic slurs against the veteran referee. Kennedy has a history with Rondo’s former longtime coach, Doc Rivers, who coached Rondo on the Celtics and supposedly once questioned Kennedy’s sexuality.