LaVar Ball: Not sorry for berating 'out of shape' female ref he lobbied to replace
Mercurial Ball patriarch refuses to walk back his controversial comments and attacks his critics
LAS VEGAS -- LaVar Ball on Saturday refused to walk backwho gave him a technical foul Friday, causing a firestorm at the Adidas Summer Championships. Ball added he holds no ill will toward her but maintained his opinion regarding the official -- an NCAA Division I women's official -- and her readiness to officiate the high-profile boys tournament.
"No," Ball said when asked if he had changed his opinion after the fallout from his comments to ESPN. "You guys are trying to make it like a gender thing. It's not that."
Ball was interviewed after the team he coaches, Big Baller Brand, was eliminated from bracket play Saturday. The controversy came about when Ball successfully lobbied to have the female official removed from Friday's game. Ball threatened to pull his team off the floor if the change was not made.
After the game, Ball said the official needed to "stay in her lane" -- repeating a phrase he used in a dispute with Fox Sports personality Kristine Leahy in May -- and declared the official was "out of shape."
"It's not about me hating that lady or something," Ball said Saturday. "She just got caught in a bad place: messing with me. She good. She probably a great ref for the women's. She's probably a great ref. But this men's stuff, it's a difference between women's basketball and men's basketball. Just cause we go like that, and don't hit the ball, don't mean it's a foul. But don't get your feelings personal. And that's why people were like, 'But she's a great ref.' To you she's a great ref. Not to me."
Ball insisted his disapproval of the official had nothing to do with her gender, making reference to the fact that his team's Friday night game also featured a female official (at the behest of Adidas). That game -- a 97-87 Big Baller Brand win over College Bound (Calif.) -- was without incident.
"It doesn't matter, it's just a ref," Ball said. "I'm just looking at the stripes on a shirt. It's not looking like, 'Oh, you got a ponytail, you don't know what you're doing.' But I'm just saying, work at your craft to be professional. Because when you get these big crowds and these big games it's elevated in a whole different level."
A three-man crew officiated the Big Baller Brand's 116-95 loss to Team Lillard in the Round of 16 on Saturday (LaMelo Ball scored 56 in the setback). After receiving technical fouls in two of his first three games, Ball was not whistled for another in the final three. LaMelo Ball was part of a double technical late during Saturday afternoon's loss. Coach and son received techs in Friday's controversial game.
"The only reason you know her is she gave me and my son a tech [on Friday]," Ball said. "And that's what it is when you ref somebody who's got a high celebrity. Ain't nobody else doing that. The guy who reffed today, videotape him and then you gonna see he act exactly like me. You see what I'm saying? But every coach acts like that because the intensity of the game is so high, and I'm just saying: Don't have no vendettas in here. You can say what you want, but it's hearsay. What I say, what she say, it's no big deal. It's over with, and you guys are going to keep bringing it back to try and find out, to try and say, 'You know what, girls shouldn't be reffing this.' I don't care if all girls ref. If they good refs, let's go ahead and do it. But it's not about tech-ing up and making a scene. They could've got a lot of techs with these (refs) right here were a little more involved. They went both ways. They wasn't quick to give me and [the other coach] a tech on the fact we go out like that."
Ball also said, "I wish her the best." But he's been a lightning rod for criticism over the past few months due to his penchant for exaggerated statements and audacious claims. He continued talking before getting into his van. In defending himself as a proponent of AAU basketball, he called out public-figure critics.
With Big Baller Brand's summer schedule now over, the next time any of his sons is scheduled to play an organized game will come when Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft, takes the floor in the preseason with the Los Angeles Lakers in October.
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