Refs' union rips LaVar Ball, Adidas for removing female official during AAU game

LaVar Ball talks with fans at halftime of a 2017 Las Vegas Summer League game. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The union that represents NBA referees caught LaVar Ball’s act in Las Vegas last Friday morning. You’re not going to believe it, but they’re not fans.

Ball, the father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball and coach of the Big Baller Brand AAU team (featuring youngest son LaMelo), caused an uproar on Friday. He demanded that the organizers of the Adidas Uprising Summer Tournament replace a female referee who had given him a technical foul during a game, and threatened to pull his team off the court if Adidas didn’t comply. Adidas decided first to replace the official, and then, after Ball received a second technical foul (and an automatic ejection) from a different ref and refused to leave the court, to end the game with just over two minutes remaining in the opening half. Big Baller Brand, which was trailing by 10 at the time of the stoppage, received the loss.

After the game, Ball lambasted the female referee, who had reffed Big Baller Brand’s Wednesday night game, and assessed LaVar a tech on that night, too. He claimed she had “a vendetta” against him, and said, “She needs to stay in her lane, because she ain’t ready for this.” He also said that the referee wasn’t in shape, wasn’t “calling the game right,” and was “trying to make a name for herself.”

Ed Rush, the head of the independent officiating body working the event, denied those claims, calling the official — who referees Division I women’s basketball games during the college season — “extremely competent as a person” and “a very well-respected person” who is “very serious about officiating,” according to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports.

On Sunday morning, two days after the incident garnered headlines, the National Basketball Referees Association issued stern rebukes of Ball and Adidas for how they handled themselves in the affair:





This appalling story about the female referee removed during an AAU game warrants serious discussion. First, the misogynistic comments and intimidation by the coach have no place in basketball – or anywhere. The actions by Adidas show what happens when an organization does not support those tasked with protecting the integrity of the game. We support the referee community. This offensive behavior cannot stand, and hurts all those involved in basketball.

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Ball on Saturday deflected charges of misogyny, insisting that his issue had nothing to do with the referee being a woman, and everything to do with what he perceived as poor performance. From Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com:

“You guys are trying to make it like a gender thing. It’s not that,” Ball told reporters after his Big Baller Brand’s AAU team lost at the Adidas Summer Championships on Saturday evening. “All I’m saying was, what’s her name? Exactly. The only reason you know her is she gave me and my son a tech. And that’s what it is when you ref somebody who’s got a high celebrity. Every coach acts like that because the intensity of the game is so high. And I’m just saying, don’t have no vendettas in here.” […]

“I don’t care if all girls ref — if they’re good refs,” Ball said. “Let’s go ahead and do it. But it’s not about tech-ing up and making a scene.

“It’s not about me hating that lady or something like that,” he added. “She just got caught in a bad place: messing with me. She’s good. She’s probably a great ref with the women. But this men’s stuff? It’s a difference between women’s basketball and men’s basketball. Just because we go like that and don’t hit the ball don’t mean it’s a foul. But don’t get your feelings personal. And that’s why people were like, ‘She’s a great ref.’ To you, she’s a great ref. Not to me. But it’s OK.”

Ball, as you probably guessed, said he has no regrets at how things unfolded, and that he harbors no ill will toward the official.

“I wish her the best,” he told Borzello. “I don’t want her to be like, ‘I’m the one who gave LaVar a tech.’ Don’t let that be your career. Keep striving to be the best,” he said. “Be a Big Baller. Order a Big Baller Brand shirt. I’ll send it to her.”

The official has not publicly commented on the matter. We’re sure she’s waiting by her mailbox with bated breath.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!