Gregg Popovich Comments on Rajon Rondo's Alleged Slur Toward Ref Bill Kennedy

Danny Webster@@DannyWebster21Analyst IIIDecember 15, 2015

Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo shoots during a training session in Mexico City, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. The Kings will play the Boston Celtics Thursday in a regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

Sacramento Kings point guard Rajon Rondo was suspended for one game after allegedly directing a homophobic slur toward NBA referee Bill Kennedy during his team's Dec. 3 loss to the Boston Celtics.

On Sunday, Kennedy revealed to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that he is gay.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post that he was not surprised by Rondo's comments (via ProBasketballTalk):

Why would I be surprised? You see it all the time. It's unfortunate, it's disgusting, because Billy is a great guy, and has been a class act on and off the court. As far as anybody's sexual orientation, it's nobody's business. It just shows ignorance to act in a derogatory way toward anybody in the LGBT community. It doesn't make sense. But surprised, of course not. He showed a lot of courage.

Rondo issued a statement on Twitter, expressing that his actions were "out of frustration and emotion" and that they "do not reflect" his "feelings toward the LGBT community."

This isn’t the first time an NBA player has gotten in trouble for directing a homophobic slur toward someone, but past instances didn't result in suspensions.

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 on May 23, 2011, for using an offensive slur during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

On April 13, 2011, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for directing an anti-gay slur toward referee Bennie Adams during a game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Rondo’s incident was the first to result in a ban, but many will feel that his statement on Twitter was not good enough. Jimmy Traina of Fox Sports, for example, felt that the apology was staged and insincere:

Jimmy Traina @JimmyTraina

That Rajon Rondo "apology" perfectly exemplifies why forcing someone to make a phony apology for pr purposes is stupid.

Sam Amick of USA Today also felt Rondo was insincere, noting the point guard didn't actually apologize:

What’s more, the notion that he "did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone" qualifies as an insult to the general public’s intelligence: The inherent nature of those words he chose for Kennedy is both offensive and disrespectful — first and foremost — to the aggrieved party. In this case, that’s a man in Kennedy who was widely known to be gay in NBA circles.

Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports said the NBA will not take any further action.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.