LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers put quite a whooping on Chris Paul and the visiting Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night (2/5). The game was so lopsided that Clippers head coach Doc Rivers even apologized to a young Clippers fan in the stands for his team’s poor showing. Apart from playing poorly, the Clippers managed to rack up five technical fouls; which is nothing too out of the ordinary for a team that has a league leading 58 technical fouls on the season.
After the game, Paul made a comment in regards to the officiating and a technical that he received from rookie official Lauren Holtkamp. Holtkamp is one of only three full-time female officials in the NBA, one of two currently working. Paul stated:
“The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech.
“That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”
Let’s get this out of the way first. The problem isn’t that Paul has issue with the calls made. No athlete ever thinks that they deserve the call made against them in a match. The problem is the thinly veiled dig that was thrown at Holtkamp. This is about weeding out the microaggressions that happen to women daily in the sports world; whether they are athletes, media, or officials. As expected, there have been many in defense of Paul. A few chose to focus on Holtkamp’s work thus far in the league. And then there were those who had never heard of her before Paul’s criticism and just shot right towards the sexism. Not that Paul should be blamed for others shortcomings but it was an easy route to travel with him leading into it so slyly with his comments. It wasn’t that he called out an official whom he thought was terrible. If he had stopped his thoughts at the call being ridiculous, this really would be a non-issue, but he didn’t.
He decided to take it a step further and insinuate that maybe Holtkamp isn’t tough enough to play with the big boys. There have been numerous calls made by male officials that can be deemed as emotion ridden. But no one has ever insinuated that they were not tough to handle the job. With that being said, here’s what’s really good.
It may be a stretch to call Paul a straight up sexist tool. He was the player who pushed for a female head of the National Basketball Player’s Association. But just as it is when it comes to race relations, one can still oppress you while breaking bread with you. Would the criticism still have come for a male official’s performance from Paul? Most likely. Would he have questioned the male official’s ability to handle the job? Probably not. While Paul’s comments may not have been overtly sexist, the results were covertly. It isn’t another employee’s job to decide if a fellow employee is made for the job. Paul is one of the best players in the world but for someone who has only made it out of the first round of the playoffs twice in his career; I’m guessing that one can assume that maybe a championship just isn’t for Chris Paul.