The last we took note of referee Bill Kennedy, Kings guard Rajon Rondo was suspended for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection.”
The more we learn about that incident, the more troubling it is.
Bill Kennedy, one of the NBA’s top referees, has revealed he is gay.
“I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man,” Kennedy told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night. “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.”
In the game officials’ report used as part of the NBA’s investigation – which includes details provided to Yahoo Sports from National Basketball Referee’s Association general counsel Lee Seham – Kennedy and fellow referee Ben Taylor described Rondo’s post-ejection diatribe as including the statements: “You’re a mother——- faggot. … You’re a f—— faggot, Billy.”
Seham reported that a third official, Bennie Adams, outside of hearing distance, “affirmed that Rondo aggressively pursued referee Bill Kennedy and had to be restrained by teammates and escorted off the floor by Sacramento team security.”
The three officials – Kennedy, Taylor and Adams – confirmed those reports in taped interviews conducted by NBA security on Dec. 4, Seham said.
Good for Kennedy for coming out. Young gay people need role models, and he just became one. It’s important to see him remain proud of who he is in the face of a vicious verbal attack – something, sadly, gay people face far too often.
We need to get past that type of behavior.
Jason Collins coming out as gay was a major breakthrough for the NBA in terms of acceptance. It forced many to confront their internal biases. It’s more difficult for referees, who seemingly have nobody on their side, but Violet Palmer became a pioneer when she came out as gay. Kennedy should help, and the immediate response to this incident has been very anti-Rondo.
Hopefully, Rondo learns from his error.
Everybody deserves the right to come to work without their sexual orientation being a source of harassment.