Bill Kennedy confirms Clippers’ Doc Rivers never used gay slur


Openly gay NBA referee Bill Kennedy has now confirmed that Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers never used an anti-gay slur against him in 2009, despite what recent reports have said.

On December 3rd, Rajon Rondo was ejected in a game against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City for going off in an anti-gay rant at NBA referee Bill Kennedy, who openly came out as gay following Rondo’s suspension. It goes without saying that it’s disgraceful, and the fact Rondo failed to issue an actual apology on Twitter makes it even worse. Rondo’s slurs towards Kennedy reportedly included “You’re a mother——- faggot… You’re a f—— faggot, Billy” (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports), and such disgusting language has brought another matter to light involving Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

In 2009, Doc supposedly use a derogatory, homophobic term against Kennedy during the first round of the 2009 Eastern Conference playoffs, according to Haralabos Voulgaris (as has been reported by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports).

There have been a few issues between Doc and Kennedy over the years, as late in the 2009 regular season both were fined for an incident during a game. Doc also received a fine during last season’s playoffs for criticizing the judgement of referees including Kennedy.

However, regardless of past issues or fines between the two, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report has now reported that Kennedy himself has confirmed that the Clippers’ head coach never used a glay slur against him during that confrontation in 2009 while he was with the Boston Celtics.

Since the issue surrounding Rondo and Kennedy emerged, Doc has denied that he ever used an anti-gay slur against and said that he even has a good relationship with Kennedy (per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports):

"“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.”“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.”"

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Considering the fines and confrontations they’ve experienced, it’s hard to think Doc’s relationship with Kennedy is quite as good as it may be with other refs. That being said, it’s also completely understandable that coaches and referees put aside arguments or differences after the game is over. Regardless, now that not only Doc has denied using a slur but Kennedy has confirmed it to be true, it’s pretty safe to say that the Clippers’ head coach is innocent. If Kennedy says so, then that’s that.

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Also, Voulgaris, who had the initial first-hand account of what happened during that game in 2009, has said on Twitter that it was “hard to tell for sure” what he heard. With that in mind and Kennedy saying Doc never used a slur, anyone who is doubting the actions of the Clippers’ head coach can put their doubts to rest.

As for Rondo, he has been suspended for one game, while Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé and general manager Vlade Divac have issued a formal apology for his actions. Rondo’s personal ‘apology’ was simply not good enough, as he didn’t even use any form of an apology and instead wrote an excuse rather than remorse for what he did.

It’s good that this issue of homophobia and prejudice has been brought to light, but a one-game suspension in a 82 game season doesn’t seem like a strong enough response for a matter that needs to be dealt with seriously.