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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo tried to clarify on Twitter why he made a homophobic slur to longtime NBA referee Bill Kennedy, but stopped short of publicly apologizing for his actions.
Rondo initially denied directing the comments at Kennedy during the NBA's investigation of the Dec. 3 incident, but tweeted late Monday afternoon that he made the slur "out of frustration and emotion" after Kennedy ejected him from the game. Rondo's tweets came hours after Yahoo Sports published the details of Rondo's homophobic comments in a story in which Kennedy announced he is gay.
Rondo practiced with the Kings on Monday, but did not speak to the media afterward. He is suspended without pay for Tuesday's home game against the Houston Rockets for "directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection."
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive apologized to Kennedy in a statement on Monday.
"Rajon's comment is not reflective of the culture of the Sacramento Kings organization or the world we want to live in," Ranadive said in the statement. "He's apologized, and has been suspended by the NBA. On behalf of the team, I apologize to Bill Kennedy for any harm this may have caused."
Kings general manager Vlade Divac said the franchise didn't support Rondo's "unacceptable" comments.
"It went too far," Divac said. "What he said, he doesn't mean that. We don't support it as an organization. When I saw him today, he apologized. He felt it was a bad call [by Kennedy], but definitely it was wrong. The sanctions on [Rondo] will be supported.
"He felt bad and he didn't mean to offend anybody. He said something that is unacceptable."
Divac later apologized to Kennedy in a call, but was not certain if Rondo would reach out to Kennedy.
"I was a player and this doesn't have anything to do with Bill or any other referee," Divac said. "They do a great job. I felt bad as a person and also felt as the general manager of the organization we don't support that."
Kings coach George Karl said Kennedy is a "good referee" and he was "disappointed" in the comments from Rondo that he deemed "out of character."
"We had a distracted practice today," Karl said.
Rondo is averaging 12.6 points, a league-high 11 assists and 6.9 rebounds with the Kings after signing a one-year, $10 million contract last offseason. The four-time All-Star struggled with the Dallas Mavericks last season and his attitude was questioned. Prior to this incident, Rondo appeared to be having a good season with the Kings. Rondo will be eligible to return to the court for Friday's road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"Other than the Mexico City game, I can't remember the last bad game he's had," Karl said of Rondo. "He's played above my expectations. He's played at an All-Star level. His numbers say you should talk to him about him being on an All-Star level. He's exceeding my expectations."