By Matt Citak
LaVar Ball is back in the news. A week after taking his team off the court upon receiving a technical foul, Ball came close to pulling the same move again over the weekend at the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas.
The outspoken coach and originator of the Big Baller Brand threatened to remove his Big Ballers team, featuring his son and UCLA recruit LaMelo Ball, from a game on Friday unless a female official who had just given Ball a technical foul was replaced on the court. A discussion ensued for the next 10 minutes before Adidas officials did in fact remove the referee from the game and replace her with a male official.
“She’s gotta go,” Ball repeated before the referee was eventually replaced.
Following the conclusion of the game, Ball criticized the woman, a Division I women’s basketball official, and told ESPN she was not fit to officiate and claimed she was not in good shape. He added that the referee should “stay in your lane.”
The decision by Adidas has been widely criticized on social media, and led to the organization that provided the referees for the tournament to end its relationship with the billion-dollar shoe company.
“The events that led to the removal of a female official on Friday are something that shall not and will not be accepted within the officiating community,” read a statement from Court Club Elite that was provided to ESPN, via CBS Sports. “Adidas and their leadership acted in a manner that does not parallel our views on integrity or professionalism, and neither should be compromised as they were in this situation. It was clear that the actions of the official in enforcing and addressing unsporting behavior were defendable and fitting of the behavior displayed; however, the agenda and lack of courage to do the right thing by Adidas leadership sent a clear message that the game and those chosen to protect the integrity were not of priority.”
Ball and his Big Ballers team were eliminated from the event on Saturday.
The coach and father of NBA rookie Lonzo Ball, UCLA Class of 2018 recruit LiAngelo Ball, and UCLA Class of 2019 recruit LaMelo Ball had no further issues with any other officials following the incident on Friday.
Ball’s actions over the weekend warranted a response from the National Basketball Referees Association on Sunday, who slammed both Ball and Adidas for their respective parts in the altercation.
“This appalling story about the female referee removed during an AAU game warrants serious discussion,” the NBRA tweeted early Sunday. “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.”