The NBA fined Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul $25,000 on Saturday for comments he made about a female referee after a game on Thursday.
Upset with a technical foul that Lauren Holtkamp called during a rare loss for the team against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul told reporters after the game, “This might not be for her.”
The comment sparked a lot of criticism from those who saw the slight as a dig on Holtkamp’s gender. She is one of just two full-time female NBA referees. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, however, the NBA did not dole out the fine to Paul over anything having to do with Holtkamp’s gender. Instead, the league issued the standard fine associated with criticizing a referee in a public forum.
The National Basketball Players’ Association stood behind Paul on Friday, too, saying that the point guard does not disrespect women. Paul also clarified his remarks, noting he was critiquing “a bad call,” and not Holtkamp’s gender.
Was the call really bad, though? According to The Washington Post’s resident stats guru Neil Greenberg, Holtkamp’s technical foul calls on Thursday were nothing unusual. He writes:
Holtkamp has officiated 29 games and isn’t prone to calling technical fouls. According to data compiled by nbastuffer, she averages just 0.2 technicals on the road team and 0.3 on the home team. And those fouls account for just 1.2 percent of all the fouls called when she is part of the crew working the game. That ranks 21st out of the 39 officials with at least 20 games under their belt this season.
The Clippers, on the other hand, are constantly in foul trouble. Before Thursday night’s controversy, the Clippers averaged the second-most technical fouls in the NBA (0.7) behind the Phoenix Suns (0.8). As of Friday, they lead the league.