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NBA Referees Association comes to defense of Holtkamp: “She belongs”

Los Angeles Clippers v Cleveland Cavaliers

Los Angeles Clippers v Cleveland Cavaliers

NBAE/Getty Images

The National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) isn’t going to just let the head of the NBA players union call out a female referee and not respond.

The night after Clippers point guard Chris Paul questioned if rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp was cut out for the NBA, NBRA General Counsel Lee Seham said his association reviewed the calls and “deems them fully justified.”

“The NBRA deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs,” Seham said in a released statement.

Paul was frustrated after the Clippers were blown out by the Cavaliers on national television Thursday night, and in that game the Clippers picked up five technical fouls. His comments in a postgame interview have created a firestorm online and a debate about officiating in the NBA.

“I think we’ve got to show better composure, but at the same time some of ‘em was ridiculous. Like the tech I got right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody say, I don’t care what she say, that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a technical. We try to get the ball out quick every time down the court and when we did that she said ‘Uh-uh (no)’ and I said ‘Why uh-uh?’ and she gave me a tech. That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case then this might not be for her.”

Paul will get fined by the league for his comments — not because she’s a woman but because any time a player publicly criticizes a referee to the media they get fined.

And I expect at some point Monday Paul will say publicly what people around the Clippers have said privately, that this was about his frustration with a rookie referee and quick whistles, not about her being a woman.

The entire officiating crew was quick to blow their whistles and hand out technicals Thursday night. Matt Barnes’ first technical for grabbing Kevin Love was a foul but not worthy of a tech. The technical that Holtkamp gave DeAndre Jordan for yelling “g--d-----" after a big dunk also seemed like a young referee trying to control something that a veteran would have let go.

That said, the Clippers complain about calls on the court more and more demonstratively than any team in the NBA — they complain about every call seemingly every game. I’m not sure Blake Griffin has ever gone to the rim and thought he wasn’t fouled. The Clippers had to expect there would be a backlash at some point, the officials are human beings and there are consequences for actions in life.