Adidas admitted it made the wrong decision after pulling a women’s referee from a youth basketball game at the request of Big Baller Brand founder LaVar Ball.
On Friday, Big Baller Brand’s AAU team was vying for a shot at the Adidas Summer Championship in Las Vegas when LaVar, the father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, issued a technical foul. LaVar reportedly retaliated by threatening to take his team out of the game entirely, prompting Adidas to replace the referee who called the foul.
Reports quickly surfaced that ahead of the game, Adidas advised its refs to give LaVar extra leeway and avoid calling technical fouls on him.
In a similar incident on Thursday, LaVar allegedly cursed at a referee, but was not penalized. “Due to strong messaging [from Adidas] to extend those guidelines in an effort to keep [LaVar] in the gym, the officiating crew felt uncomfortable enforcing the technical foul rule for actions that clearly warranted [action],” a source told ESPN.
The official Twitter account of NBA referees denounced the incident on Twitter Sunday. “This appalling story about the female referee removed during an AAU game warrants serious discussion,” the account tweeted.
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Now Adidas has expressed regret over the call in an official statement. “The referee substitutions made during our tournament last week are not in line with our company values. It was the wrong decision,” Adidas public relations manager Madeline Breskin said in an official statement.
“Supporting all athletes is critical to who we are,” Breskin continued. “We believe in the power of sport to create positivity and bring people together. Importantly, any representation that we would compromise our values and inclusive approach for the benefit of any individual is inaccurate.”