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Kings’ Rajon Rondo issues second statement to apologize for gay slurs

NBA referee Bill Kennedy (55) talks with Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015.
NBA referee Bill Kennedy (55) talks with Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. hamezcua@sacbee.com

After receiving criticism locally and nationally, Kings guard Rajon Rondo issued a second statement to apologize for his gay slurs toward referee Bill Kennedy that led to a one-game suspension by the NBA.

Rondo was suspended last Friday by the NBA for Tuesday’s game against the Houston Rockets at Sleep Train Arena for using offensive and derogatory language Dec. 3 during the Kings’ loss to the Boston Celtics in Mexico City.

It was revealed later that Rondo used gay slurs at Kennedy after he was ejected. Kennedy announced Sunday that he is gay, something that many in league circles have known for some time.

“Yesterday, I said that my words toward Bill Kennedy were unacceptable and did not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community,” the statement read. “Some have interpreted my comments as a non-apology. 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 was criticized for not addressing the matter Monday with the media when news broke of what he’d said to Kennedy. Instead, Kings general manager Vlade Divac and coach George Karl spoke.

As Divac spoke, Rondo was on a practice court near the media after declining to comment.

Divac and the Kings’ owner and chairman issued statements condemning Rondo’s words toward Kennedy.

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Rondo chose to issue a statement through Twitter, using two tweets that read: “My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period! They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.”

That Rondo did not specifically state he was apologizing or mention Kennedy directly drew the ire of many around the country and in the LGBT community.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters before the Spurs hosted Utah on Monday that Rondo’s words were “disgusting” and said he was not surprised such an incident would happen.

“Why would I be surprised? You see it all the time,” Popovich said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s disgusting. Bill is a great guy. He’s been a class act, on and off the court.

“As far as anybody’s sexual orientation, it’s nobody’s business. It just shows ignorance. To act in a derogatory way toward anybody in the LBGT community doesn’t make sense. But surprised? Of course not.”

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Karl said every season has its challenges and a player can lose his composure, but he’s hopeful Rondo’s second statement would help everyone move on.

“I think that’s what we all want; I think that’s where we all want to go,” Karl said. “... It’s time to do the right thing, move forward and hopefully grow up from it and not let it ever happen again.”

Lineup changes – Rondo had been the only King to start every game this season prior to Tuesday. Darren Collison started in place of Rondo.

That made for the 13th different starting lineup this season.

Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac talks to reporters about comments made by guard Rajon Rondo on Dec. 3 in Mexico City.

Sacramento Kings coach George Karl on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, said he's trying to keep his team focused while dealing with allegations the team's starting point guard Rajon Rondo used anti-gay slurs against NBA referee Bill Kennedy, leading to Rond

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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