Chris Paul didn’t mince words after the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-94 on Thursday night, bitterly accusing referee Lauren Holtkamp of making a “ridiculous” call when she called a technical foul on him. The NBA’s premier point guard opined that “this might not be for her.”
The referees’ union calls the comments by Paul, the head of the players’ union, “personal and unprofessional.” The group maintained of Holtkamp that “she belongs.”
The Clippers, who lead the NBA in technical fouls, picked up five technical fouls Thursday night to push their season total to 58. Paul was not alone in his displeasure; some other Clippers also told postgame interviewers they disliked Holtkamp’s calls not only in the Cavaliers game but also in a game they played against the Miami Heat. DeAndre Jordan, who elicited a technical from Holtkamp when he yelled he deserved a free throw after a dunk, commented, “I guess she thought I was talking to her. We talked about it. She said that she thought I was talking to her. She made a call and I talked to the other refs and they disagreed with it. Hopefully it will be rescinded. We’ll see.”
The incident prompting Paul’s ire occurred with 10:17 left in the third quarter. After the Cavaliers threw the ball out of bounds next to the basket, Paul attempted to inbound quickly, but Holtkamp stopped him. When he questioned her, she hit him with a technical.
Paul stated his side of the story as well as his view of the officiating:
I think we have to show better composure, but at the same time some of [the technical fouls] were ridiculous. 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.
Matt Barnes, who leads the league with 11 technicals, was ejected after picking up two more. He bluntly said,
The first one I’m guarding someone who outweighs me by 40 pounds and he makes a spin move and I slap down on the ball so he doesn’t get an and-1 and he held my arm and I tried to pull my arm back and I get a T. The second one when they called Jamal (Crawford) for running into Lebron, I said, “Just don’t give them the game,” and they kicked me out. It’s bulls—, it keeps happening. Some of these I earn and some of them I don’t, but it’s crazy to get a technical foul for pulling your arm away and a technical foul for saying, “Just don’t give them the game.” If you can’t play with emotion, I don’t see how you can play. I guess it’s a reputation we’ve earned and it’s upon us to do a better job of trying to control our emotions, but you can’t play the game at this level without emotion and without talking. It’s tough but the refs had nothing to do with the way we came out and performed tonight.
NBA sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that any comment from players regarding officiating are cause for the league to review the situation, meaning Paul will come under scrutiny.
Holtkamp’s resume includes six years in the NBA Development League, as well as refereeing in the WNBA, college, and FIBA ranks. She and Violet Palmer have remained in the NBA as refs; the third woman to ref this year, Dee Kantner, left the league.