Chris Paul was called for a technical foul in the third quarter of Cavs-Clippers after an interaction with referee Lauren Holtkamp, and was critical of her moxie after the game:
You can watch the video of the call, which Paul described as "terrible," here. It's not clear what Paul said to Holtkamp to draw the technical -- he said he didn't curse -- but her reaction to penalize Paul was quick and decisive.
The NBA Referees Association fired back at Paul on Friday:
After review, the calls made by Ms. Holtkamp are fully justified. We deplore the unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. #shebelongs— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) February 6, 2015
It's possible that Paul would've said this about any rookie NBA official, but of course, Holtkamp isn't any rookie NBA official: She's only the third full-time female referee in major American sports. And the gist of Paul's statement is that she isn't mentally strong or tough enough to call NBA games. Would Paul, a player who doesn't have a history of criticizing officials to the press, say that about a male ref in a historically entirely male field?
It's likely that Paul will be fined regardless of whether the league views his comments as sexist -- you can't make statements like this about NBA officials to the media regardless of their gender.
In the NBA's eyes, Holtkamp is no more or less ready to ref NBA games than her male counterparts. The former Division II player worked her way to the NBA through the league's referee developmental program, calling D-League games for six years. She called six NBA games last year as a non-staff ref before being called up to the league's full-time crew this year. Holtkamp was the topic of a documentary, "Summer Dreams," following her as well as players and coaches hoping to get noticed at NBA Summer League.
The NBA is the only major American sports league to have employed female referees. Violet Palmer has been refereeing games since 1997, while Dee Kantner was fired by the league in 1997 before becoming the WNBA's head of officiating.