On Dec. 3, Sacramento Kings point guard Rajon Rondo was ejected from a game by referee Bill Kennedy. Rondo refused to leave the court immediately after being ejected and instead followed Kennedy to the far sideline, where he reportedly called the 18-year veteran a gay slur.
Rondo was quoted as saying, "You're a motherf—king f—got. … You're a f—king f—got, Billy," according to fellow referee Ben Taylor, who was also working the game, in which the Kings lost to the Boston Celtics in Mexico City.
On Friday the NBA suspended Rondo for one game for directing a "derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner," according to a statement from the NBA viewed by Yahoo! Sports.
On Monday, Kennedy, 49, announced that he is gay.
"I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," 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."
Kennedy declined to comment further, but shortly after his announcement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered a statement of support for Kennedy.
"I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly," Silver told Yahoo! Sports in a statement. "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."
According to Yahoo! Sports, Rondo is not the first player to be accused of using the derogatory slur, but he is the first player to be suspended. "Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 during the 2011 playoffs for making a slur toward a heckling fan, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using an anti-gay slur toward a referee earlier that same season. Both players apologized for the comments," Yahoo! Sports reports.
During an investigation of the Kennedy-Rondo incident by the NBA, all three referees working the game confirmed Rondo's use of the slur, and independent experts reviewed footage of the incident and confirmed the referees' accounts regarding Rondo's language, Yahoo! Sports reports.
Rondo denied to league officials that he used the slur and declined to comment on the incident Monday. Yahoo! Sports notes that Rondo will lose $86,300 in game salary for the suspension.
Kennedy is the second NBA referee to make his sexual orientation public. In 2014 veteran referee Violet Palmer revealed that she is gay and then married her longtime partner, Tanya Stine.
Read more at Yahoo! Sports.