Years before Bill Kennedy came out as openly gay, disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy outted his peer. Donaghy also claimed Doc Rivers, then coaching the Celtics, had questioned Kennedy’s sexual orientation – causing Kennedy to hold a grudge against Rivers.
In light of Rajon Rondo‘s anti-gay rant against Kennedy coming to light today, prominent NBA gambler Haralabos Voulgaris also told a first-hand account of Rivers using an anti-gay slur toward Kennedy in 2009.
Rivers denied the accusations.
“That was not true,” Rivers said. “Sometimes, I hope I have more credibility than where that came from.
“Bill and I have a great relationship. But that’s been out there forever, and i would say this: It’s funny that it’s out there any nobody really asked me the question, because they knew. Not saying you shouldn’t ask the question, but it’s amazing nowadays that all you have to do is blog something or write something, and then it takes on its own life.”
The most surprising part of that response probably isn’t Rivers’ denial of using a slur, but his insistence he has a good relationship with Kennedy. Both were fined for an incident – Rivers getting ejected after, he said, Kennedy goaded him into it by staring him down – during a 2009 game, and Rivers was fined as recently as last year’s playoffs for criticizing Kennedy’s crew.
“I have run-ins with a lot of refs, but it’s over usually pretty much after the game,” Rivers said. “Then, the next game that you lose that they do, then everybody says there’s something going on. You almost have to win every game after that when that ref refs the game. Otherwise, then, at least from a fan perspective, they’re thinking, ‘He’s out to get you.’ I don’t know a ref alive that does that.”
Update: Voulgaris admits he might have misheard/misremembered the incident::
I don’t trust Donaghy one bit. I don’t think Voulgaris would lie.
Between Voulgaris’ clarification and Rivers’ denial, I’m ready to give Rivers the benefit of the doubt unless new information emerges.