Normally when NBA referee Bill Kennedy announces something, it's to call a foul or signal for a timeout during a basketball game. But on Monday, Kennedy made an announcement that is far more noteworthy than deciding whether a play is a block or a charge: He is gay.
"I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," Kennedy said to Yahoo! Sports for a piece published the morning after a Sunday night discussion. "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." He joins female official Violet Palmer as the second NBA ref to come out as gay.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver followed Kennedy's announcement with a statement of his own.
"I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly," he said. "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."
Kennedy's public comments follow a Dec. 3 incident in which Kings point guard Rajon Rondo was ejected from a game that he was officiating. Rondo reportedly yelled anti-gay slurs toward Kennedy after being disqualified, and has since been suspended.
Kennedy is 49 years old and has officiated more than 1,000 games over the course his career.