The bombastic, self-promoting patriarch LaVar Ball, the father of NBA star Lonzo Ball, fell into some hot water on ESPN Monday after viewers accused him of making inappropriate sexual remarks towards “First Take” host Molly Qerim.
During the hit ESPN show, starring Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman with Ball as the guest, Smith handed the conversation to Qerim, who said she was “switching gears” with the next question, to which Ball responded,
“You can switch gears with me any day.”
The ever-demonstrative Smith responded by mouthing the words “Oh, Lord,” while shaking his head in Ball’s direction.
Qerim was visibly stunned by Ball’s response and, after a pregnant pause, regrouped with an uncomfortable response: “Let’s stay focused here.”
Former ESPN host, Jemele Hill, scorched LaVar Ball on Twitter while simultaneously applauding Qerim’s deft handling of the “inappropriate” comments.
After the show, ESPN released a statement on Twitter denouncing Ball’s remarks.
”LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that.”
Later on, Qierm, who is married to fellow ESPN staffer and former Michigan Fab Five member Jalen Rose, alluded to Ball’s behavior when she jokingly said she’ll be dialing up ESPN’s human resource department before the episode ended.
Molly Qerim jokes about calling HR after awkward exchange with LaVar Ball pic.twitter.com/4NMhhyBFxd
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 17, 2019
Ball’s rep, Denise White, is issuing a statement from the BBB company that was obtained by ESPN, stating: “[LaVar] was asked if he wanted to switch gears, in his mind switching gears was ‘changing the subject anytime’ and he said, ‘yes, you can switch gears with me anytime.’ At NO time was that intended or meant to be sexual in nature.”
The patriarch has been under fire for comments he made on-air to a woman before. In 2017, he told Fox Sport’s Kristine Leahy to “stay in your lane” after she questioned him about his unorthodox parental style.
LaVar Ball was on the show Monday after seemingly casting a curse over the Lakers for trading his son Lonzo Ball and two others to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, along with three draft picks. An irate LaVar Ball said:
“I guarantee, like I say again, it will be the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life and they will never win another championship. Guarantee it.”