Kings' Rajon Rondo apologizes again for gay slur toward referee

Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo has offered a stronger apology for directing a gay slur at veteran NBA referee Bill Kennedy.

Rondo issued a statement Tuesday addressing those who viewed his initial statement as a non-apology. He said: "I want to be clear, from the bottom of my heart, that I am truly sorry for what I said to Bill. There is no place on or off the court for language that disrespects anyone's sexual orientation. That is not who I am or what I believe, and I will strive every day to be a better person."

Rondo had tweeted Monday his actions toward Kennedy on Dec. 3 were out of frustration and not meant to offend anyone.

Rondo directed the slur toward Kennedy during a game against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City on Dec. 3. Rondo was given two technical fouls and ejected by Kennedy during the second half. Rondo approached Kennedy after a first technical and yelled at him, then continued after Kennedy issued a second technical. As he was being pulled away by teammates, Rondo called Kennedy a gay slur.

On Sunday, Kennedy told Yahoo! Sports that he was gay.

The NBA gave Rondo a one-game suspension without pay for "directing a derogatory and offensive term toward a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection," according to league vice president Kiki Vandeweghe.

Vlade Divac, the Kings' vice president and general manager, and Vivek Ranadive, the team's owner and chairman, also made statements Monday, apologizing for Rondo's comment and saying the organization didn't condone the behavior.

"On behalf of the team," Ranadive's statement read, "I apologize to Bill Kennedy for any harm this may have caused."

In 2011, Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for making an anti-gay slur to a game official. Bryant apologized at the time and said his actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game and didn't reflect his feelings toward gays.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver supported Kennedy's actions in a statement to Yahoo! Sports.

"I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly," Silver 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. While our league has made great progress, our work continues to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity."

Kennedy, a 49-year-old Phoenix native, has worked more than 1,100 NBA games, including 68 playoff games and five Finals games. He also has experience working in the Continental Basketball Association, WNBA and international basketball competitions.

Information from ESPN's Brian Windhorst and the Associated Press was used in this report.