The Los Angeles Clippers received five technical fouls during a 105-94 loss to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, a game in which the team was at one point down 30-plus points.
One of those fouls was on the Clippers’ star point guard, Chris Paul, for whatever he said here to rookie female referee Lauren Holtkamp.
Here’s a closer view of the incident, although it’s still difficult to see what Paul said:
After the game, a visibly upset Paul, who is also the head of the National Basketball Players Association, made the following statement (emphasis ours):
"I think we got to show better composure, but at the same time some of [the techs] were ridiculous. The tech that I got right there was ridiculous. I don't care what nobody says, I don't care what she says; that's terrible. There's no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, 'Uh-uh.' And I said, 'Why, uh-uh?' And she gave me a tech. That's ridiculous. If that's the case, this might not be for her."
TNT analyst Reggie Miller was critical of Holtkamp’s calls during the game as well. “That’s ridiculous, guys,” Miller said of an earlier technical.
“Lauren Holtkamp is having her kodak moment right here,” he said later of a technical on center Deandre Jordan.
“I think that might have been a taunting foul,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley replied. “He [Deandre Jordan] did scream something at her.”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael Wilbon are saying they’ve heard that Paul’s comments were in reference to Holtkamp being a rookie, not a woman.
“That may well be true, but it is a bad look, and a lame-ass thing to say on a night that your team got blown out,” Deadspin’s Kevin Draper wrote last night.
“Yes, Lauren Holtkamp is a rookie NBA ref, but Chris Paul has to know it's a bad look to question her qualifications over one foul,” Jamil Smith, a senior editor at The New Republic, wrote on Twitter. “Come on.”
The head of the National Basketball Referees Association called Paul's comments "personal and unprofessional" on Friday, according to ESPN. The referee union also said it looked at the calls and decided they were "fully justified."
The Clippers have a reputation for collecting technical fouls, so it isn’t particular odd that Holtkamp doled out a few. In fact, if you count the current season, the team has been handed the most technicals in the league in three of the past four years. The one year they didn’t top the league, they tied for second most.
Holtkamp is in the midst of her first season as a NBA referee after spending six years officiating games for the NBA’s development league. She is just the third woman in the league’s history to hold the position full-time. No other major American sports league besides the NBA has ever employed a full-time female referee, according to SB Nation.
“I don’t feel pressure,” Holtkamp told Grantland earlier this year when discussing her new job. “The pressure I feel as a new referee is no different than any other pressure that a first-year referee feels coming in.”
This post has been updated to include the views of the National Basketball Referees Association.