Editor's note: After this column was written, Rajon Rondo issued a second statement saying he is "truly sorry" for directing an anti-gay slur toward Bill Kennedy.
Rajon Rondo is asking us to believe he had no hate in his heart and no intention of offending Bill Kennedy when he dropped the f-bomb on him a week ago in Mexico City. Unfortunately, Rondo lost all benefit of the doubt the second he used that word as a slur against anyone. If you use that awful word so freely in any context -- even in anger -- you can't be surprised when people don't buy your claimed intent.
In his non-apology apology on Twitter Monday, Rondo seemed to claim he didn't know Kennedy, a longtime NBA referee, was gay. This is completely beside the point. Calling a man you know to be gay a f----t is a special sort of detestable insult. But calling a man a f----t period is a detestable insult. This is why Rondo was punished by the NBA and ripped by the media and fans. It is 2015. This is well-worn territory. It's been four years since the NBA has had to punish a player for using that word. For Rondo to defend himself by claiming he only used the word in anger is completely absurd. You can't use that word in anger or jest or anything else. It's off-limits unless you want sanctions both official and to your reputation.
Rondo might have known Kennedy was gay. Tim Donaghy launched that rumor into the public eye years ago. Donaghy made some awfully serious/seriously awful claims about the genesis of the feud between Doc Rivers (then Rondo's coach) and Kennedy. These claims by Donaghy were never front-page news, and Howard Beck has since debunked the biggest manifestation of said claims.
Yet it's hard to believe Rondo never heard the rumors. That history plus Kennedy's decision to come out now after Rondo's verbal abuse adds some vicious context to the situation.
Rondo doesn't understand the level to which he messed up. He couldn't! He couldn't possibly grasp the severity of his actions and still come out with a pitifully weak statement like this.
My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period!— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) December 14, 2015
They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) December 14, 2015
Here's the thing. This statement is pitifully weak, but it's also extremely specific in what it is trying to communicate. By claiming the slur was dropped out of "frustration and emotion" and by claiming the rant doesn't reflect Rondo's feelings toward the LGBT community, Rondo is trying to signal clearly that he didn't know Kennedy was gay. In other words, he's saying, "I called him a f----t because I was mad, not because he's gay."
Rondo is trying to convince us to give him the benefit of the doubt. But you lose the benefit of the doubt when you use that word. Period.
The problem with Rondo's statement is that in his haste to attempt to gain the benefit of the doubt from us, he forgot to actually apologize. "I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone" is not an apology! You know how we can tell? Because it doesn't include the words "I apologize" or "I'm sorry" or "I deeply regret" or anything remotely resembling what apologetic people say.
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Rajon Rondo's 'emotion' not an excuse for slurs
Rajon Rondo is trying to excuse his use of an anti-gay slur as just "emotion." It's that same emotion so many sports fans and writers allow to get the best of them when lashing out at referees and officials.
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Your actions led to a man in the public eye being forced to come out, perhaps before he was ready. You did that. Step the hell up and acknowledge your role in a painful episode. Don't tell us you didn't mean it. Tell us you're sorry for saying it!
No, Rondo's gone the way of the coward, piling up this mountain of disappointment ever higher. He opted out of media availability on Monday. He had an opportunity to apologize on camera, to acknowledge his failure and show remorse. Instead, he opted for that pathetic Twitter statement and let his teammates, his coach and his general manager answer for him.
So he puts out his little tweets, the team released a statement from Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadivé -- a statement that condemns Rondo's comments but claims he's apologized for them, which he really has not -- and they think that's it. Nope. This isn't going away until Rondo actually shows remorse. The NBA won't hit him with another punishment -- that's not the league's style -- but you'd better believe the league office is pushing the Kings (explicitly or not) to resolve this before it spirals out of control.
Monday wasn't enough. Rondo needs to get out there ASAP and give a full-throated, no-qualifier apology to Kennedy, to Kennedy's family and to the NBA community. (And that's a minimum requirement.)
It seems so easy, doesn't it? Show remorse and apologize when you say something awful. It's not rocket science. Hell, it's not even Connect Four. Yet here we are, waiting on something that common sense dictates should have been handled immediately. The clock's ticking.