Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul is in the spotlight, but not for his All-Star caliber play on the basketball court.
This week, Paul, who is also the president of the NBA players union, has come under heavy criticism for language he used to criticize Lauren Holtkamp, one of the two full-time female pro basketball referees currently working in the league.
After receiving a controversial technical foul from Holtkamp during a regular season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul said the call was “ridiculous” and added, “This might not be for her.” While Paul and his supporters have insisted that his remark was in reference to the fact that this is Holtkamp’s first season officiating in the NBA, several observers have detected a sexist undercurrent in his observation.
The league is currently investigating Paul’s comments, but in the meantime the NBA players union is throwing their weight behind him. “Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said in a statement Friday. “His personal management team, which includes several accomplished women who play a major role in virtually all of his business affairs is, alone, evidence of that fact.”
For her part, Holtkamp has not publicly weighed in over the debate about Paul’s comments. But, the NBA’s Referee’s Association has come out strong against Paul’s comment on Twitter. “After review, the calls made by Ms. Holtkamp are fully justified. We deplore the unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. #shebelongs,” they tweeted from their official account.
Meanwhile on Friday, Paul addressed the criticism he’s received while talking to the media ahead of a game against the Toronto Raptors. ”Last night was about a bad call,” he told reporters three times.