The Los Angeles Clippers received five technical fouls in their 105-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, but one is being talked about far more than the rest – for two reasons.
One, Chris Paul called the referee out after the game, and two, that referee – Lauren Holtkamp – is female.
Paul attempted to make a quick in-bounds pass with 10:17 left in the third quarter, but Holtkamp wouldn’t allow it. She then gave him a technical foul when he questioned her. After the game, Paul called the foul “ridiculous,” adding, “If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”
Holtkmap is the third woman to referee NBA games full-time this season.
Was Paul’s comment sexist?
“No, I don’t think those comments were sexist,” Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Although I certainly (read), like you (did) today, people making that assertion or that possibility. I think Chris Paul was frustrated as a player with a rookie referee. Now, you obviously are in a far better position to know – having played in the highest levels – what that might be like. How I saw it was, Chris Paul was just really ticked off that someone who, in his opinion, had not merited the respect that a veteran ref might, and he went off on a ref after the game.
“The one sentence that obviously everybody’s focusing on is, ‘If that’s the case, this might not be for her,’” Deitsch continued. “Without knowing Chris Paul, my sense is he would have said the exact same thing if it were a guy. ‘If that’s the case, this might be for him.’ I honestly think he would have said it. I think he was just ticked off that a rookie ref basically T’d him up.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Paul issues an apology.
“It’s a good question,” Deitsch said. “Chris is a guy who does a lot of commercial endorsements. He has a reputation league-wide – and in the public – of being a good guy, the kind of guy you want to sponsor stuff. A league spokesperson, a bright guy. I think he will come out, and, in my opinion, he will clarify that he meant nothing related to her gender. He meant nothing related to sexism. He just had some stuff to say about a referee. I hope he does not have to go out and do some kind of apology tour just to sort of keep these comments died down a little bit.”
Then again, it might not be Paul’s decision alone. Outside factors might influence him. Heck, so might inside factors.
“It’ll be interesting to see how much pressure the league gets,” Deitsch said. “The league just wants to make sure that the message isn’t sent somehow that the league has issues with gender, that the league is not supporting one of its few female referees. So I understand that Adam Silver still has a little bit of PR to play with here. But we’re talking about a guy with a really good reputation in Chris Paul. This is not a guy who flies off the handle left and right. I honestly think he wasn’t trying to be sexist here. So if that’s the case, I hope he comes out, clarifies it, does not apologize, and just says, ‘Hey, I read this today, and I just want you guys to know I meant nothing against her gender. I was just pretty ticked off that a ref T’d me up, and I don’t think the ref had a very good game’ – or something to that effect.”