Unsurprisingly, LaVar Ball’s outspokenness and views about a woman’s place in the basketball world has created some controversy.
Angry after he and his son LaMelo Ball received a technical foul from a female referee at a recent adidas Uprising AAU tournament game, Ball ordered the tourney’s organizers to pull the official from the contest. Amazingly, the adidas organizers made the change at halftime, substituting a male referee in her place. Ball insisted afterwards that he was angry with the official because she was female but he also provided plenty of quotes that were contrary to his own claims.
Standing with their fellow officials, the National Basketball Referees Association condemned the actions of both Ball and the tournament’s organizers. Officials from the NBA weighing in on an AAU game is a big deal, and could also point to how Ball’s actions may affect his son, Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, once the season start. It also may give a glimpse at how NBA referees will deal with Ball if he becomes overly vocal during games.
But the NBRA isn’t the only organization dismayed by Ball’s and adidas’ actions. Court Club Elite, the referee organization that provides officials for adidas’ AAU tournament, terminated their contract with the company due to the treatment of their fellow female official.
From ESPN’s Myron Medcalf:
The group that supplied officials for the adidas Uprising Summer Championships, in which LaVar Ball successfully petitioned for a female referee to be replaced after she gave him a technical foul on Friday, will terminate its five-year relationship with the sneaker company due to the incident.
“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,” Court Club Elite, an organization that trains and develops referees at amateur and professional levels, said in its statement to ESPN. “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.”
In the grand scheme of things, adidas will just hire another official organization and their tournament games will likely continue to go on without any real noticeable differences. But Court Club Elite’s stance is quite important and shows that despite how big of a name Ball may be, some people frankly are not going put up with him and as a direct result of that, business partnerships will suffer.