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Dotson Lewis' Blog

Dotson’s Note: This Blog  is actually taken from three different articles about the trials and tribulations of a rookie NBA basketball official, who happens to be a woman. Violet Palmer, another female NBA basketball official, is a friend who I have known since she first started officiating basketball at the collegiate level. Violet’s career as a basketball official in the NBA has received very little publicity…the NBA has pretty well kept her out of the public eye, and those who have been critical of her officiating abilities have very carefully avoided any comments regarding gender. 


Lauren Holtkamp Unfazed On Being NBA's Third Full-Time Female Referee


Lauren Holtkamp had just finished school and a basketball career at Division II Drury University in Springfield, Mo., a decade ago and contemplated what to do before pursuing a master's degree in divinity.

Laura Holtkamp


A former teammate's dad invited Holtkamp to a local referees meeting, and in 2004, she refereed her first game, a middle-school contest in Springfield. Ten years later, Holtkamp, 33, is now a staff official for the NBA, becoming the third woman to ref NBA games full-time, joining Dee Kantner (now the WNBA's supervisor of officials) and Violet Palmer (an NBA referee since 1997).


"Part of the satisfaction of earning this opportunity has to do with the fact that I've been able to stay committed to the work and put the work first and trust the system and that's what matters," Holtkamp said, "It doesn't matter who is doing the work as long as the work is high quality. There is a great deal of satisfaction in that."


Holtkamp is one of three officials to make the jump from the NBA Development League to the top league this season. Dedric Taylor and Justin Van Duyne also joined the 63-person roster.



                            Violet Palmer




She said she appreciates what Kantner and Palmer have accomplished. "There is a kinship and certainly a sense of support and collegiality." But Holtkamp is emphatic that she is a referee who just happens to be a woman.


"I would say really from day one when I got hired into the D-League, I've been treated as a referee as far as my performance," she said. "It's been about my performance and the quality of

my work."


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Referees Union Says “Chris Paul’s Comments about Female Referee Were Personal and Unprofessional”


The union representing NBA referees defended official Lauren Holtkamp after "personal and unprofessional comments" by Clippers guard Chris Paul. Paul criticized the rookie referee Thursday, saying she might not be ready for the big leagues after six seasons in the minors.

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."


Paul was called for a technical foul by Holtkamp during the Clippers' 105-94 loss in Cleveland. Following a free throw by Cleveland with 10:17 left 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."


Paul is president of the NBA Players Association, and his questioning a referee's readiness is a common complaint the league hears about rookie officials. He likely will be fined for public criticism of an official.*



The 34-year-old Holtkamp spent six seasons in the NBA Development League, working its championship series the last two years. A former player at Division II Drury University, she also officiated nine NBA regular-season games before her promotion to the full-time staff.

Violet Palmer is the league's other currently active female referee, having worked about 900 regular-season games during a career that's now in its 18th season.


Paul and the Clippers were assessed five technical fouls by Holtkamp's crew.



*Chris Paul Fined $25K for His Technical Called By Referee Lauren Holtkamp


NBA star Chris Paul has been called for many technical fouls through the years. His latest is drawing perhaps the most notice, and his criticism of the female referee who called it has drawn a $25,000 fine from the league.

                           Chris Paul

The conversation around the technical has centered on what Paul said about rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp, one of two current active female officials in the NBA.

The NBA said Paul was being fined for "public criticism of officiating." The league's statement announcing the fine didn't mention the official's gender.

Paul said her call during a Los Angeles Clippers loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers was "ridiculous" and "terrible."

As previously stated, Paul’s comment was, "We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, 'Uh-uh.' I said, 'Why, uh-uh?' And she gave me a tech," the Clippers point guard told reporters after the game.  "That's ridiculous. If that's the case, this might not be for her." But critics focused on the last sentence, accusing the nine-year veteran of sexism.


Other people, including San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, defended Paul. "I don't think it had anything to do with the ref's gender," she tweeted.

Becky Hammon





And the director of the National Basketball Association Players Association, Michele Roberts, also denied it was a gender-based comment.

Michele Roberts

"Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false," she said, according to media reports.

Before his game the following night, Paul was asked several times about the comment. Each time he said: "Last night was about a bad call."

Paul, who is the players' union president, was fined $15,000 in 2011 when he was with the then-New Orleans Hornets for verbally abusing a referee.

According to NBA statistics, Paul has been called for 79 technical fouls in his career.


Dotson’s Other Note: What do you think about women officiating in the NBA? Your suggestions, comments and/or questions/concerns regarding my blogs are appreciated. Call the Benchwarmers 361-560-5397 weekdays, Mondays thru Fridays, 3-6 p.m. or contact me.  Phone: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475 Email: dlewis1@stx.rr.com


Have Fun!!! -30-