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National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts has backed Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul as the storm surrounding his comments on referee Lauren Holtkamp continues to grow.
Paul criticised Holtkamp’s performance during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night after she assessed him with a technical foul in the third quarter of the loss.
The Clippers ended the game with five technicals in total, but Paul was left flabbergasted as to why he received one when merely questioning why he was delayed from receiving a quick inbounds pass.
“Without hesitation, the Players Association stands firmly behind Chris, whose competitiveness may only be exceeded by the strength of his values and his conviction,” Roberts said in a statement.
“Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false. 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.”
The eight-time All-Star insisted on Friday that “last night was about a bad call, that’s all” but it hasn’t prevented the controversy from building as naturally the questioning of a female ref has sparked a reaction.
Holtkamp is the third woman to referee NBA games full time this season and she received support from the union which insisted that she belonged in the league.
Meanwhile, Clippers coach Doc Rivers admitted that he didn’t like the way Paul addressed the situation, but he was adamant that this was nothing to do with gender but merely a basketball call.
“Well, I didn’t like it,” Rivers said.
“I didn’t like that part of it, but I don’t think he meant it in the way I think it’s being said. I just think he was upset at the technical. I don’t think the technical was warranted, either, to be honest, but that’s not a gender issue. … I don’t think that he meant it as a gender issue at all.”
Paul also received support from San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon who insisted on Twitter that she believes it was not a case of gender either.