Rajon Rondo has apologized – sort of – for using homophobic slurs following his ejection from a game earlier this month in a tirade aimed at NBA referee Bill Kennedy, who came out as gay on Sunday night.
The Sacramento Kings’ guard was ejected from a game on December 3 after receiving consecutive technical fouls from Kennedy, refused to leave the court and launched into a rant that reportedly included the statements “You’re a motherfucking faggot” and “You’re a fucking faggot, Billy.” The NBA suspended Rondo one game without pay for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection.”
Rondo is the first NBA player to be suspended for using of anti-gay slurs, but he’s not the first to be punished by the league for homophobic language. In 2011, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for using a slur in response to a heckling fan, and that same season the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using similar language toward a referee. In 2013, the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert was hit with a $75,000 fine for using the phrase “no homo.” All three players subsequently apologized for making the remarks.
In a series of tweets Monday, Rondo didn’t actually say he was sorry, but rather explained, “My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period. They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.”
Kennedy, currently in his 18th season as an NBA referee, revealed he is gay in a statement on Sunday, saying “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified [as gay] in the hopes that [it] 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.”
Following Kennedy’s announcement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement that read, in part, “I wholeheartedly support Bill’s decision to live his life proudly and openly…while our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”