LaVar Ball forces Adidas to replace ref mid-game, then gets ejected, AAU game called off

Henry Bushnell
LaVar Ball argues with a referee at an AAU event on Friday. (Screenshot: @Overtime on Twitter)

LaVar Ball is a maniac. An absolute maniac. Sometimes his act is fun. Sometimes it’s not. On Friday morning in Las Vegas, at the Adidas Uprising AAU event, it was not. It was ugly. It was embarrassing.

Ball, for the second time in a week, threatened to pull his AAU team off the court after receiving a technical foul. Last weekend, he did pull them off the court. This week, his threat somehow compelled Adidas, the organizers of the AAU event, to replace the referee who had assessed LaVar with a technical, according to reports from those in attendance.

LaVar then picked up a second technical foul, and again pulled his team off the court. He was ejected from the game, but reportedly refused to leave the floor. That prompted organizers to call off the game altogether:


The chaos began when LaVar picked up a first technical foul for arguing mid-game with a female official:


Here’s video of LaVar earning the technical. It sure looks like he deserved it:


And then here’s video of the aftermath, with LaVar appearing to tell his players to pack up their bags and get ready to leave:


According to multiple reports, Ball told his team, “Let’s go.” The players stayed by the bench while “organizers [tried] to sort through the chaos.”

LaVar then apparently asked for the official to be replaced:


Video from ESPN’s Jeff Borzello showed the game stopped, LaVar’s players sitting on the bench, and camera crews (which are following LaVar around) out on the court, presumably while event officials discussed what to do.


Eventually, LaVar got his wish:





The decision was made by Adidas, according to Borzello:


This is unbelievable. It’s absurd. It’s totally unacceptable.

After the game was called off, LaVar attempted to explain himself, but only made things worse, reverting to his disrespectful “stay in your lane” line. “She’s got a vendetta,” he told Borzello, referring to the referee who gave him the technical. “She needs to stay in her lane because she ain’t ready for this.” His comments are reminiscent of his controversial appearance on Fox Sports 1 earlier this year, when he told female host Kristine Leahy to “stay in your lane.”

Asked to explain why he believes the ref has a vendetta, LaVar said, “Because she’s a woman who’s trying to act — I get that she’s trying to break into the referee thing. But just giving techs and calling fouls, that’s no way to do it. I know what she trying to say: ‘I gave LaVar, I gave him a tech, I’m strong.’ That ain’t got nothing to do with it. Just call the game.

“If you’re going to be qualified, you better be in shape, and you better know the game. And she’s bad on both of them. She not in shape, she not calling the game right, and she don’t understand, so now she trying to make a name for herself. So she walking around like, ‘I’m the only woman in here.’ Yeah, we get it, I don’t care if you a woman or a man or whatever, just be good at what you do.”

The female official also refereed the Big Ballers’ game on Wednesday. “She did the same thing,” LaVar said. “She came into this game knowing what she was gon’ do. I knew it too.”

Here is full video of LaVar’s comments, via Overtime. It is mostly him complaining about how the game was called:

Adidas director of global basketball sports marketing Chris Rivers said “there was some miscommunication” regarding the selection of the officials. “The NBA don’t put certain people with certain guys, either. If there’s a history or miscommunication, that happens.”

ESPN’s Myron Medcalf reported that Adidas had been pressuring referees to refrain from giving LaVar technicals “because of his drawing power and [Adidas’s] potential courtship of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball,” LaVar’s son.

Ed Rush, who is in charge of the independent group of officials that works the AAU event, defended the ref, who works Division I college games. “She’s extremely competent as a person,” Rush told CBS Sports. “She’s a very well-respected person. She’s very serious about officiating.”

Rivers said he didn’t think LaVar’s anger had anything to do with the ref being female, despite his arguably sexist remarks afterwards. “I don’t even look [at] gender as an issue,” Rivers said. “I guarantee he’s had issues with officials of every color, gender, height, weight,€” as have all of our coaches who lose games this week.”

It’s unclear if Ball’s complaints are valid, or if they’re completely unfounded. But his history suggests that most of the fault here lies with him, and not the referee. Plus, even if the game was officiated poorly, it doesn’t at all excuse his behavior.

Nor does it excuse Adidas for caving and replacing the official rather than standing up to LaVar. That’s unheard of. And it’s ridiculous.

Why any kid would want to play for LaVar’s AAU team is a mystery. It’s clearly not helping their development as basketball players. And they can’t enjoy having their games ruined by a coach who can’t keep his mouth shut. Whether there is any fallout from this mess remains to be seen.