Adidas tourney refs' boss: Nobody told us to avoid calling technicals on LaVar Ball

LAS VEGAS -- Contrary to an earlier report, Adidas employees did not explicitly instruct referees working the Adidas Summer Championships to refrain from issuing technical fouls to LaVar Ball, veteran NBA official and Court Club Elite founder Ed Rush said Friday.

In the wake of the headlines made by Ball's interaction with a female referee, and the referee's removal from Big Baller Brand's game Friday morning, Adidas officials declined comment. ESPN reported Friday afternoon that Adidas representatives expressed to Rush and his colleagues that Court Club should provide "three officials on the game who will keep him [Ball] in the building," for Wednesday night's glamorous matchup between Big Baller Brand and SC Supreme, which featured the No. 2 recruit in the nation, Zion Williamson. The report also referenced Adidas' potential courtship of Lonzo Ball, LaVar Ball's son and the No. 2 overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, who does not have a shoe contract. 

"No, absolutely not true. You can quote me," Rush said. "That is absolutely not true. We talk every year, every year we've been doing this, about doing what we can to manage the emotions and keep people in the building."

Big Baller Brand played a game late Friday, officiated by two men and a woman. There were no incidents between the officials and LaVar Ball, with his crew pulling off a 97-87 win over College Bound (Calif.), behind LaMelo Ball's 45 points (on 14-of-39 shooting).  

Court Club Elite has been in business with Adidas for its annual summer basketball championships for a decade, Rush said. 

"We are not allowed to comment at this time," one high-ranking Adidas official said. 

Rush showed a text message to CBS Sports with correspondence from one of his colleagues, who was communicating a message from Ron Montoya, one of the directors of the Adidas Summer Championships.  

"Montoya just called me. Court 5 Wednesday night, 9 o'clock, feature game, Big Baller Brand," Rush's text message read. "He needs to have an NBA observer and three of our better referees. We'll look at the roster tomorrow and figure it out."

The concern from Adidas stems from Ball's penchant for dramatic moments, as he coaches his youngest son, LaMelo, and the Big Baller Brand team. The previous week, Ball took his team off the floor and forfeited a game. An ejection surely would bring headlines, in addition to potentially complicating the nature of the relationship Adidas has been building over the years with the Ball family, which could include potentially wooing Lonzo Ball. 

"What they said was, 'Hey, it's going to be a little bit of a circus, with security," Rush said. "The first night we had to take our officials around the back. 'It's going to be a little different.' They said to us, 'Can you please make sure you have guys who can handle him effectively?' "  

A separate source on the officiating side said Ball's demeanor hasn't affected the referees' ability to do their jobs effectively or to call technical fouls. That is evidenced by the fact Ball has been assessed three through three games in this tournament. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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