ESPN has banned sports dad LaVar Ball from all platforms after he declined to apologize to ESPN moderator Molly Qerim for a “completely inappropriate” comment he made during a recent appearance on First Take.
An ESPN spokesperson told The Athletic‘s Richard Deitsch that they have “no plans moving forward” of ever having Ball as a guest on any of their programs.
The move comes after Ball made what could be misconstrued as a sexist comment to Qerim while he aired his grievances over the L.A. Lakers trading his son, Lonzo Ball, to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis.
During a segment of the interview, Qerim said to Ball, “LaVar, can I switch gears with you because I have a question here.”
Ball replied, “You can switch gears with me anytime.”
Qerim paused for a moment, laughed, then moved on to her next question. She returned to the comment at the end of the show.
“If anyone’s calling HR today it’s me,” Qerim said.
Ball’s representative, Denise White, said Ball’s comment was in no way intended to be sexual, but ESPN wasted little time rebuking the Big Baller Brand founder, pictured with his wife, Tina Ball, in 2018.
“LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate,” ESPN said in a statement to TMZ. “We made him aware of that.”
Social media users were largely supportive of Ball, saying Qerim opened the door for him to crack his joke at her expense. Others reminded her of the non-sports reason why she got the job.
Qerim, who is married to ESPN sports analyst Jalen Rose, said she was glad that “ESPN had my back.”
“ESPN was really supportive,” Qerim told TMZ on Tuesday. “All the executives had my back. Much appreciated.”
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