ESPN: LaVar Ball's Comment to Molly Qerim Rose 'Was Completely Inappropriate'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2019

FILE - In this July 7, 2017, file photo, LaVar Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers' Lonzo Ball and UCLA player LiAngelo Ball, watches the Lakers play the Los Angeles Clippers during an NBA summer league basketball game, in Las Vegas. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday, Nov. 19, that he should have left three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, accused of shoplifting in China in jail after LaVar Ball minimized Trump’s involvement in winning the players’ release during an interview Saturday, Nov. 18, with ESPN. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
John Locher/Associated Press

LaVar Ball, the father of NBA star Lonzo Ball, made an inappropriate comment to First Take host Molly Qerim Rose during Monday’s episode that drew a reaction from the network.

"LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that," ESPN said in a statement to Rob Tornoe of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today noted, Ball responded to a transition from Qerim Rose by saying, "You can switch gears with me anytime." The host brushed the comment off and kept the show moving by telling him to "stay focused," but Ball’s words drew an exasperated reaction from Stephen A. Smith as well.

Former ESPN employee Jemele Hill criticized the network for continuing to give Ball space to talk, while another former member of ESPN, Jeff Goodman, apologized for his role in perpetuating the early coverage around the senior Ball:

While Ball is known for his outlandish comments—suggesting he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one or that the Los Angeles Lakers should sign all three of his sons comes to mind—this isn’t the first time he responded to a female reporter in a sexist way.

Neuharth-Keusch detailed a 2017 incident when Ball appeared on Fox Sports 1 and told Kristine Leahy to "stay in your lane" when she asked him about the sales of Big Baller Brand shoes. He then said that "she can report to whoever she wants behind her" while continuing his conversation with host Colin Cowherd.

Ball was on First Take in part to discuss the trade that sent his son, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks to the Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis.

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