Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers denies that he called gay referee Bill Kennedy a "faggot" when Rivers was coaching the Boston Celtics in the 2009 playoffs. The person who made that claim is now backtracking on this allegation.

"That was not true," Rivers told Pro Basketball Talk. "Sometimes, I hope I have more credibility than where that came from.

"Bill and I have a great relationship. But that's been out there forever, and I would say this: It's funny that it's out there any nobody really asked me the question, because they knew. Not saying you shouldn't ask the question, but it's amazing nowadays that all you have to do is blog something or write something, and then it takes on its own life."

Kennedy came out publicly as gay yesterday after the NBA suspended Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo for confronting him on the court and calling him a "fucking faggot."

In its story about Kennedy's coming out, Deadspin reprinted comments from ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy, who pleaded guilty to charges he fixed NBA games for gamblers. In 2010, Donaghy outed Kennedy, saying: "It was no secret he was a homosexual. … It was known around the league, it was obvious during a game Doc Rivers questioned his sexual orientation and I think that has stuck with Kennedy over the years and he has no love for Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics."

Deadspin then quoted Haralabos Voulgari, a prominent NBA gambler, who tweeted: "Good for Bill Kennedy, one of the most famous ref beefs vs a coach was him vs Doc. Doc used a derogatory term vs him. I heard what Doc called Kennedy, it wasn't too hard to predict Doc getting the shaft in future Kennedy games. Grudges are real."

Today, NBA writer Howard Beck tweeted this:

Since his initial allegations, Voulgaris has now backtracked:

After his initial coming out remarks to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kennedy said he is not discussing it further. But Beck has excellent sources, so if he says Kennedy has absolved Rivers, that gives the coach more than the benefit of the doubt. Voulgaris’ latest tweets suggest he is also having doubts about something that he alleges happened more than five years ago.

Accusing someone of using gay slurs is serious. Outsports has often heard of instances of alleged homophobia in sports and we do our due diligence before reporting on them, and don't publish anything unless we're confident the slur was uttered. There were two recent examples in basketball — one in college and one in a non-NBA pro league — that were tantalizing, but I could not nail either story down. Therefore, nothing was published.

Voulgaris should not have accused Rivers of saying something offensive without proof and Deadspin should not have reprinted his remarks without making a serious attempt to verify them. Anyone can post anything on Twitter and it doesn't make it a story. That is why Outsports held off writing about it until Rivers addressed it publicly. Howard Beck's reporting added to our knowledge of the situation. Unless someone has verifiable proof, Doc Rivers must be taken at his word. Homophobia in sports is bad enough without making accusations based on what someone says they heard five years ago.

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