LaVar Ball and adidas have found themselves under heavy criticism for what happened on Friday night at the company sponsored AAU tournament when a female official was removed at halftime after giving Ball a technical because Ball claimed she had a vendetta against him.
To this point, Ball has been unapologetic — and one could expect him to remain that way — and even doubled down with a repeat of his “stay in your lane” comment. Ball’s misogynistic comments have come under attack from the likes of ESPN analyst Jay Bilas and the NBA’s referee association.
For their part in enabling Ball by removing the ref, adidas has likewise come under fire and on Monday, a spokesperson released a statement to For The Win apologizing for the incident and claiming it didn’t reflect the company’s values.
“The referee substitutions made during our tournament last week are not in line with our company values. It was the wrong decision. We regret the situation and are looking into the matter to make sure our standards for sportsmanship, equality and fair play are met in the future.
“Supporting all athletes is critical to who we are. We believe in the power of sport to create positivity and bring people together. Importantly, any representation that we would compromise our values and inclusive approach for the benefit of any individual is inaccurate.”
It’s the right thing to say, but damage has already been done. The organization that supplied the referees for the tournament has cut ties with adidas and won’t staff any future events, and, even if there was a history between Ball and the referee — which was adidas’ official reasoning for removing her — if it wasn’t addressed before the game it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was. The optics of the entire thing look terrible, even if intentions weren’t malicious.