LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul said on Friday that his scorn for National Basketball Association (NBA) referee Lauren Holtkamp was just anger at a bad call and not a jibe at her gender.
"Last night was about a bad call, that's all," said Paul, who sparked cries of sexism on social media when he called the technical foul he received from Holtkamp on Thursday in a game at Cleveland "ridiculous".
The disgruntled Clippers were slapped with five technical fouls in the third quarter of their 94-105 loss to the Cavs.
"I think we've got to show better composure, but at the same time, some of them were ridiculous," said Paul.
He was irked that Holtkamp, one of two female officials in the NBA and in her first full season in the league, assessed him a technical when he questioned her decision to stop play after the Clippers tried to inbound the ball quickly following a Cleveland free throw.
"That's terrible," Paul said. "There's no way that can be a technical. We try to get the ball out quick every time down the court and when we did that she said 'Uh-uh' and I said 'Why uh-uh?' and she gave me a tech. That's ridiculous.
"If that's the case, then this might not be for her."
The NBA Referees Association promptly chastised Paul for "personal and unprofessional" comments.
"The NBRA has carefully reviewed the calls made by Lauren Holtkamp and deems them fully justified," the union said in a statement. "Furthermore, the NBRA deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs."
The matter likely isn't over. The NBA forbids public criticism of officiating, so Paul will likely face a fine.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he thought Paul was really only irked by the call, and not making a personal comment on Holtkamp's gender or inexperience.
"I don't think he meant it in the way I think it's being said," he said prior to the Clippers' game at Toronto on Friday.
"I think he was just upset at the technical. I don't think the technical was warranted either, to be honest. But it's not a gender issue."
Amid the controversy, the Clippers got off to a hot start against the Raptors on Friday, but Toronto rallied from an early 20-point deficit and rolled to a lopsided 123-107 victory.
Three Clippers players scored 20 or more points - Blake Griffin with 26, Paul with 22 and Jamal Crawford with 20 - but Los Angeles lost their third in a row for the first time this season and drop to a 33-18 record.