Kenny Smith's wife says race was DEFINITELY a factor when the ex-NBA star was denied a ride in NYC last week ... saying Kenny WATCHED the guy pick up a white passenger moments later.
We got Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith at LAX moments ago -- and she's PISSED about the situation TMZ Sports caught on video ... when Kenny was rejected by a driver who said his shift was over despite the fact his light was on.
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) says the cab records show the cabbie in question was indeed off-duty ... and did not take another fare that day.
But Gwen is calling BS in a big way -- and gave us Kenny's post-rejection play-by-play ... which she says stinks of racism.
By the way, Gwen says it's not the first time Kenny's been rejected from a cab in NYC ... and insists she's NEVER had a similar experience with Uber.