Adidas officials say it was a “wrong” decision to replace a female referee from its sponsored AAU tournament in Las Vegas after LaVar Ball complained.
“The referee substitutions made during our tournament last week are not in line with our company values,” Adidas said in a statement Monday. “It was the wrong decision. We regret the situation and are looking into the matter to make sure our standards for sportsmanship, equality and fair play are met in the future.”
The statement also said that “any representation that we would compromise our values and inclusive approach for the benefit of any individual is inaccurate.”
After Ball, who coaches his Big Baller Brand team, which has his son LaMelo on it, was given a technical foul by the referee, he threatened to have his team walk off the floor if she wasn’t replaced. A male referee was then swapped in.
Ball was later ejected after a second technical foul, and the referees called the game when he refused to leave the court. Outside the arena, Ball went on a sexist rant in which he said “she needs to stay in her lane because she ain’t ready for this,” among other things.
On Monday, Ball said he feels targeted by officials.
“Of course I’m being unfairly targeted, but it’s OK. Why wouldn’t I be?” Ball told Mornings with Keyshawn, Jorge and LZ on ESPN LA 710. “They say I got a big mouth anyway. They say we bad as heck. Of course you want to try to quiet me up. That’s the way I’ve been coaching all the time.
“It’s just entertainment. Instead of going to the movies, people are coming to the AAU game to watch a game.”
The replacement of the female referee did not sit well with Court Club Elite, the group that provided the officials for the tournament, the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships. The group terminated its deal with the shoe company.
While some had speculated that Adidas made the referee swap to appease Ball for potential shoe negotiations with his son Lonzo, sources said there have been no talks between the two sides since Ball asked all the big shoe companies for $1 billion for his son’s rights.
Among the shoes Lonzo wore during the Las Vegas Summer League, in which he was named MVP, were James Harden‘s signature shoes, which are made by Adidas.