The Clippers did not have a fun night on Thursday with the Cavs dunking and lobbing all over them on their way to a 105-94 win that was more of a blowout than the final score indicates. During the frustrating loss, Chris Paul was whistled for a technical early in the third quarter by first-year ref, Lauren Holtkamp. Paul’s comments after the game, including the pronoun-specific suggestion “this might not be for her,” has some wondering if it’s an implicit knock that women shouldn’t ref games.
Holtkamp is in her first season as a full-time NBA ref — just the third woman in NBA history — after working part-time NBA and Summer League games. Before her promotion, she was working NCAA, WNBA and D-League games, so it’s not like she’s without experience. She was part of the Summer Dreams documentary about her ascension to the NBA level through the NBA’s far-reaching pipeline to groom future NBA refs.
The play that upset Paul occurred early in the second half, with 10:17 remaining in the third when Paul picked up his technical. The Clippers were already down by 23 at that point, and Cleveland rested most of their starters after lengthening their lead to 31 by the end of the third period.
Still, despite getting blown out, Paul was angry about the refs, specifically Holtkamp, as Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding noted at the time on Twitter:
Here’s a Vine of Paul’s comment, because it’s important we see and hear it first-hand:
Paul’s pillory of Holtkamp needs some frame of reference. The comment in a vacuum looks really bad for the Presient of the National Basketball Players Association — like he’s condemning her actions because she’s a woman. ESPN.com’s Arash Markazi adds more to Paul’s post-game quote:
“I think we have to show better composure, but at the same time some of [the technical fouls] were ridiculous,” Paul said. “The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech.
“That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”
Paul, who also is head of the National Basketball Players Association, and several other Clippers players said after postgame interviews that their displeasure had nothing to do with Holtkamp’s gender and everything to do with the calls she made on the court.
Holtkamp also gave DeAndre Jordan a technical foul with 9:30 left in the third quarter after screaming for a foul following a dunk.
“I guess she thought I was talking to her,” Jordan said. “We talked about it. She said that she thought I was talking to her. She made a call and I talked to the other refs and they disagreed with it. Hopefully it will be rescinded. We’ll see.”
So Paul says his problem with Holtkamp isn’t related to her gender, even though the pronoun, “her,” at the end of his quote muddies the water a bit on that front.
The “Inside the NBA” crew also spoke of the comment after the game, with Chris Webber mentioning Holtkamp is a rookie ref, suggesting her inexperience or sensitivity to slights was more Paul’s issue than the fact she’s a woman:
Personally, we agree with what the Bay Area New Group’s Marcus Thompson tweeted out after the fact:
The diction Paul chose after the game is interesting and there’s a reason some are upset by the remarks. He should select his words more carefully because that diction can be misconstrued or misinterpreted — especially by the League Office.
The NBA will assuredly fine Paul, since they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to criticizing their referees. But it’ll be interesting to see if it’s a more expensive fine levied because of the fact he made mention of her gender in the harshest moment of his condemnation. Like Thompson above, we doubt CP3 would have used that same line if it were about a male ref, and that’s perhaps the clearest indication it was aimed at her gender and not just her judgement as a rookie referee.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski has an update from the NBA Refs Association on Paul’s comments:
What do you think?
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