NBA Ref Recall First Game After Coming Out

A year ago, NBA referee Billy Kennedy was called a “m—–f—ing f—-t” by Rajon Rondo during a game. A couple days later, Kennedy came out of the closet with a statement saying that he was, “proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man.”

ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz has a great story recalling Kennedy’s first game back in the NBA after coming out publicly. He was worried about a fan storming on to the court and trying to stab him.

 

This game happened to be in San Antonio, which at first seemed to matter not at all. But a few steps down the hall Kennedy bumped into Spurs executive R.C. Buford. Buford asked if Kennedy was OK, and Kennedy surprised them both by hugging the general manager. To Kennedy’s even bigger surprise, Buford didn’t let go.

At the most vulnerable moment of Kennedy’s life, Buford had several options. He could’ve offered a pleasantry — just enough to clear the threshold of compassion. He could have stressed the optics of one team’s general manager offering aid and comfort to a person who can swing his team’s fortunes. He could have shrunk from the sheer awkwardness in a professional setting of being pulled into the body of a man he didn’t really know. Instead, Buford just hugged him.

Reading this made me feel really good. The NBA has been very progressive and supportive of the LGBTQ community. You should click over to ESPN and read the rest of the story.

 

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