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Paul: Bad call reason for criticism

NEW YORK — Chris Paul made it clear: His problem with referee Lauren Holtkamp was with her call.

He left it to others to say it wasn't about her gender.

His criticism of the rookie official drew a rebuke from the referees union Friday followed by strong backing from the female executive director of the NBA Players Association.

"Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false," Michele Roberts said in a statement, noting Paul's role in making her the first woman to head a North American major sports union last summer.

The Los Angeles Clippers guard criticized Holtkamp on Thursday night after a 105-94 loss at Cleveland, saying she might not be ready for the big leagues after six seasons in the NBA Development League.

Paul was asked about it three times Friday before the Clippers played in Toronto.

"Like I said, last night was about a bad call," Paul said. "That's it."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers agreed, though he would have preferred that Paul had worded his comments differently.

"I didn't like it, I didn't like that part of it, but I don't think he meant it in the way I think it's being said. I just think he was upset at the technical," Rivers said.

"I don't think the technical was warranted either, to be honest. But that's not a gender issue, that's just an issue that you disagreed with the tech."

Paul was called for a technical foul by Holtkamp in the third quarter. The Clippers were attempting to inbound quickly when Holtkamp stepped in. Paul questioned her and was slapped with the technical.

"The tech I got was ridiculous," Paul said. "That's terrible. There's no way that can be a technical. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court. When we did that, she said, 'Uh-uh.' I said, 'Why uh-uh?' and she gave me a technical. That's ridiculous. If that's the case, this might not be for her."

Lee Seham, general counsel of the National Basketball Referees Association, said in a statement his group reviewed Holtkamp's calls and "deems them fully justified."

"Furthermore," he added, "the NBRA deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs."