The latest controversy involving LaVar Ball relates to the most famous basketball father in the world having a referee removed from a game because she gave him and his son technical fouls. Ball’s antics at the adidas Uprising tournament as he coached the Big Ballers, starring his youngest son LaMelo, caused quite the stir as adidas gave in to Ball’s claims that the female referee had a vendetta against him and removed her at halftime.
That move has been decried by many, including the NBA’s referee association, and the referee association that staffed the event has cut ties with any adidas events moving forward due to their decision to remove the referee at Ball’s request. Adidas issued an apology on Monday for what happened, but Ball was far less apologetic after the game on Friday, when he insisted she should “stay in her lane” — a common refrain he’s used towards women in the past — and shouldn’t be a referee for men’s games.
Those comments, coupled with some of his past statements, seem to indicate a trend towards how LaVar Ball views women being involved in sports. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas wrote an op-ed on Ball’s recent comments and explained why he’s gone from enjoying Ball’s antics to viewing him as problematic and misogynistic.
He was fun to watch. And fun to laugh at. And laugh with. I thought he was in on the joke.
But to whatever extent I enjoyed LaVar Ball and his antics at first, I now find him close to intolerable. Instead of being in on the joke, he has become a joke, and it is no longer funny. He started to lose me when he publicly complained about his son’s high school coach, who was ultimately out of his job. Then, he told Fox Sports’ Kristine Leahy to “stay in her lane,” which I found to be disrespectful and unnecessary to the point of being misogynistic. Then, he started to show himself through his participation as a “grassroots” summer basketball coach. He is needlessly profane and his conduct is out of control with officials and he’s not worthy of being in charge of the development of young players.
Ball essentially bragged after the game about getting an official removed, an egregious act he should be embarrassed about. The removed official is a female college referee, and Ball had the audacity to claim that this woman, like Kristine Leahy, should “stay in her lane.” Well, exactly what lane is that? The female official was in her lane. She was officiating a basketball game until she was relieved of that duty by the event organizer, at the demand of LaVar Ball.
At the end, Bilas drove his point home by referring to Ball as a “misogynistic buffoon unworthy of my time.” Bilas isn’t alone in having LaVar’s act wear thin on them as his outbursts and grandstanding have gone from fun in nature — Bilas noted he thought Ball saying he could beat Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley 1-on-1 was funny — to crossing lines of decency. There are many that didn’t like Ball from the beginning and a growing list of those that are losing patience with his antics, and Bilas’ column explains why.
That said, the LaVar Ball show isn’t going to come to a stop anytime soon. One only needs to hear the stories of players and fans simply trying to get a glimpse of Ball at the adidas Uprising tournament to know that his popularity remains incredibly strong even as he becomes more divisive, and you can be sure that he’ll have a response for Bilas soon — and don’t be surprised if it gets plenty of play on Bilas’ home network of ESPN.