Truth be told, Chris Paul didn’t say anything to Lauren Holtcamp that he wouldn’t have said to Ken Mauer or any of the other officials on duty the night so many are now using to judge him.
It’s pretty much the same thing Paul has been saying to every referee calling his games that he’s felt has missed a call or two ever since he emerged as a rising star in his home state of North Carolina.
The L.A. Clips’ were in the midst of being run out of the gym by LeBron James and his suddenly surging Cavaliers and Paul felt the need to vent, par for the course in NBA circles since, oh, the start of the game itself.
“That’s ridiculous,” Paul told ESPN of being called for a critical technical in the third quarter by Holtcamp for trying to inbound the ball too quickly. “I don’t care what nobody says, that’s terrible. We try to get the ball out fast every time. When we did that, she said ‘Uh-uh.’ I said ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”
What Chris Paul did was vent in the heat of the moment of a hotly contested game as his competitive nature has compelled him to do over the course of him becoming Chris Paul.
His words or actions shouldn’t be about him automatically being deemed a bad guy or even a sexist as the NBA Referee’s Association intimated they now believe he is in stating the calls made by Holtcamp were “fully justified” and that “the NBRA deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs.”
But just as qualified as Holtcamp is, the equal parts reality here is that the Chris Pauls of the world will continue— and to a large extent should be able to— complain about calls. In the eyes of the players, a bad call is a bad call— no matter who it’s made by.
Michelle Roberts, arguably the most influential woman in all of sports as executive director of the NBA Players Association and certainly so in NBA circles, holds perhaps one of the most unique perspectives of all on the issue. And she completely understands and seems to share where Paul was coming from.
“That Chris Paul would be disrespectful toward women is “utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false,” Roberts and the NBAPA said in a statement.
“Without hesitation, the Players Association stands firmly behind Chris, whose competitiveness may only be exceeded by the strength of his values and his conviction.”
For what it’s worth. Paul has taken it all as, well, the way you might think a basketball player might.
“Last night was about a call,” the eight time All-Star told reporters prior to Friday night’s game in Toronto. “That’s all.”
Some close to the Clips also point out that several other players have issues with Holtcamp that have nothing at all to do with her gender. The team had previously expressed displeasure with her performance in a game earlier this season against the Miami Heat.
For sure, the Clippers can be hotheads, leading the league in technicals this season with 58. But just as his teammates’ often crazed behavior doesn’t always speak to the way Chris Paul normally conducts himself neither should an isolated incident like this be deemed enough to brand him a sexist.
ESPN reports Paul is now under league investigation over his comments and there are even reports that he has been fined $25,000. But what more is there to determine, other than that Chris Paul is the ultimate competitor who made a comment to a referee in the heat of the moment about what he thought was simply a bad call?