COMMENTARY: Remarks made about NBA female referee gets Chris Paul fined

Remarks made about NBA female referee gets Chris Paul fined


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Evan Felser, Sports Editor

On Feb.5, what appeared to be an ordinary NBA game between the Los Angeles Clipper and the Cleveland Cavaliers turned into a topic outside of the game.

Lauren Holtkamp, a rookie female referee in the NBA, was one of the game officials. She is one of two female referees in the NBA.

Holtkamp called a controversial technical foul against the Clipper’s point guard Chris Paul. The technical foul was one of four called on the Clippers during the third quarter.

Paul was upset after Holtkamp did not allow the Clippers to inbound the ball quickly. His reaction led to Holtkamp’s calling the technical on him.

A technical foul is called when a referee feels the player or coach has done something deemed unsportsmanlike. After the foul, the opposing team gets one free throw attempt and possession of the ball.

The Clippers ended the game with five technical fouls, and one player ejected.

The game quickly became lopsided, with the Cavaliers leading 94-63 at the end of the third quarter. The final score was a 105-94 victory for the Cavaliers.

During the postgame interview Paul criticized Holtkamp for the technical foul she called on him.

He closed his statement about her officiating by saying “this might not be for her.” The following day Paul clarified his statement, claiming it wasn’t gender related.

“Last night was about a bad call” Paul constantly said, after each question from reporters.

In addition to being a ten-year veteran in the NBA, in 2013 Paul was voted president of the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association), the union that represents NBA players.

While NBPA president in the summer 2014, Paul supported the selection of Michele Roberts the first female executive director of the NBPA. Roberts is the first woman chosen for this management-level position in major professional sports in North America.

ESPN journalists Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein wrote in their summer 2014 article “Michele Roberts named NBPA chief” that Paul praised the hiring of Roberts.

“Even though she’s a female, she’s very relatable to a lot of our players. I think that’s what really hit home for not only myself but some of these other guys as well,” Paul said in the article.

In the week following his criticism, Paul was fined $25,000 for his remarks. Many members of the sports world perceived Paul’s statement as disrespectful, which started a debate on whether his comments were based on Holtkamp’s gender.

But Roberts was one of the few people to publicly defend Paul after he was fined, as Sam Amick reported in USA TODAY’s story “NBA players union stands firmly behind Chris Paul.”

“Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false,” Roberts explained to Amick.

Jonathan Velazquez, a senior advertising/public relations major, a member of the men’s basketball team at Marywood, agrees with Paul on his argument about the fouls being called.

But, Velazquez disagreed with Paul voicing his criticism of Holtkamp.

“Yeah it wasn’t a good call on her end of it, but at the end of the day you can’t publicly try to embarrass a referee. And try to get away with it without getting a fine,” said Velazquez.

Despite the different viewpoints on Paul’s statement, it brought forth a debate on sports and society.

What if Paul had voiced the same complaint if it were a male referee? Would this situation still get all the attention it’s getting?

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