Officiating group cuts ties with Adidas after LaVar Ball incident

The group that supplied officials for the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships announced Sunday that it will end its five-year partnership with the apparel company after the event granted LaVar Ball’s request to remove a female referee during a game.

Court Club Elite said in a statement to ESPN that Adidas stepped way out of bounds by giving in to Ball’s sideline drama.

“The events that led to the removal of a female official on Friday are something that shall not and will not be accepted within the officiating community,” the organization said. “Adidas and their leadership acted in a manner that does not parallel our views on integrity or professionalism, and neither should be compromised as they were in this situation.

“It was clear that the actions of the official in enforcing and addressing unsporting behavior were defendable and fitting of the behavior displayed; however, the agenda and lack of courage to do the right thing by Adidas leadership sent a clear message that the game and those chosen to protect the integrity were not of priority.”

Ball was coaching his son LaMelo’s AAU team in Las Vegas when he began berating the female official, who assessed him a technical foul. The woman had also given Ball a technical in a game on Wednesday.

Ball then delayed Friday’s first half by threatening to remove his Big Baller Brand team from the court unless she was replaced by another referee.

Adidas obliged and the game continued with a male substitute. Ball, who picked up another technical before officials called the game in the final minutes, unsurprisingly turned to the cameras after the game for his latest embarrassing outburst.

LaVar Ball went off on a female referee on Friday, saying she needed to stay in her lane and calling her out of shape.

LaVar Ball went off on a female referee on Friday, saying she needed to stay in her lane and calling her out of shape.

(Jae C. Hong/AP)

“I get that she’s trying to break into the refereeing thing. But just giving techs and calling fouls, that’s no way to do it,” Ball said. “I know what she’s trying to say — ‘I gave LaVar a tech, I’m strong’ — that ain’t got nothing to do with it. Just call the game. If you’re gonna be qualified you better be in shape and you better know the game. And she’s bad on both of ‘em. She’s not in shape, she’s not calling the game right, so now she’s trying to make a name for herself, so she’s walking around like, ‘You know I’m the only woman in here.’

“I don’t care if you’re a woman or a man or whatever just be good at what you do. She needs to stay in her lane because she ain’t ready for this.”

Adidas issued an apology on Monday, saying it made a mistake in replacing the ref.

“The referee substitutions made during our tournament last week are not in line with our company values,” the shoe giant said in a statement. “It was the wrong decision. We regret the situation and are looking into the matter to make sure our standards for sportsmanship, equality and fair play are met in the future.” 

Chris Rivers, Adidas’ director of global basketball sports marketing, called the incident a “miscommunication” on Friday.

The referee has not been identified, but ESPN reported that she works in Division I women’s basketball.

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