Rajon Rondo's words Tuesday -- his second attempt at public relations to right a wrong that led to his one-game suspension -- can't make up for what he said to NBA referee Bill Kennedy.
“You’re a mother——- faggot. … You’re a f—— faggot, Billy," according to Yahoo Sports.
That garbage shot out of Rondo's mouth in a game when the Sacramento Kings played Rondo's former team, the Boston Celtics, on Dec. 3 in Mexico City. Rondo was ejected and then walked down Kennedy with a death stare.
Without knowing exactly what Rondo had said at the time, the attempt at intimidation alone warranted more than a one-game suspension from the league (about $116,000).
But now that everyone knows that Kennedy is in fact gay, it makes Rondo's posture every bit as troubling as his words. How many times has a gay person encountered such a scenario, with being demeaned publicly and threatened with violence?
The apologists will say Rondo was in the heat of the moment and ration that people say things they don't mean when they're angry.
Wrong. When the filter is off and you're caught with your guard down, you tend to reveal who you truly are and what you really think. And only idiots stoop this low.
The apologists will say Rondo is young and immature.
Wrong. Rondo will be 30 in February. He has been in the league 10 years. He's a grown man who has traveled the world and played for USA Basketball and should be keenly self-aware of the media culture around him. He was a teammate of Jason Collins, who came out as gay after playing for the Wizards, in Boston in 2012-13. According to Rondo just a few days ago, he's the first veteran that oft-troubled DeMarcus Cousins has respected and uses as an example (face palm).
The apologists will say NBA officials deserve scorn.
Wrong. While some calls or non-calls can be headscratchers, they're still authority figures (yes, even Joey Crawford). Shouting an expletive in anger or disbelief at a whistle? That happens because it's pro sports. All jobs aren't created equal. But personally attacking someone in this way (authority figure or not) and assuming a threatening posture? Inexcusable.
The apologists will say Rondo has apologized twice and has learned his lesson and should be left alone.
Wrong. First, Rondo lied when asked about what he'd said. Then the first statement from Rondo, to paraphrase, basically said he's sorry if he offended anyone. That's not an apology. The second attempt to clean up the mess is pretty much irrelevant at this point.
It would be great that instead of issuing a predictable statement that Rondo just faced the music. Don't hide from the cameras and microphones. With the vigor in which he insulted Kennedy as the world watched, he should swim in this cesspool he created. Only then can anyone ascertain the sincerity of his words. Not to mention, there's a certain respect those of us are given when we own that we've screwed up.
Rondo isn't playing vs. the Houston Rockets because of the one-game suspension. But NBA commissioner Adam Silver has to ask himself this: If equivalent hateful language was uttered towards a female referee and there was an attempt to physically intimidate, would the suspension be this light? If this were a white player going Riley Cooper on a non-white official, would one game be adequate?
Four years ago, I talked to former NBA center John Amaechi about this topic immediately after Kobe Bryant's banter with a official Bennie Adams was picked up by a camera. Adams was part of the officiating crew with Kennedy in this latest incident, too.
Amaechi didn't want a pound of flesh from Bryant, who was hit with a $100,00 fine by the league. He didn't want the NBA to go overboard nor did he believe Bryant hated gay people. Instead, Amaechi wanted Bryant to use his influence as a global superstar.
"What I'm interested in is if you're really sorry, that this is a one-off mistake for you, use the power you have to make a difference. That means a proper apology and doing something with his brand," Amaechi told me. "Good Lord, he's got the power with one executive decision to get people moving and do something good here. Do something good."
So the ball is in Rondo's court. If he tries to atone in other ways -- and by that I don't mean signing over a check to some cause -- then maybe he truly is sorry and should be taken at his word. Or maybe he'll do like Rondo normally does, which is pass on it as he turns his head to look the other way.