LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of soon-to-be New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, made an inappropriate comment to ESPN co-host Molly Qerim during an interview on First Take Monday morning.
Qerim, in an attempt to re-focus the discussion about Lonzo’s upcoming trade as part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ deal to acquire Anthony Davis, said, “LaVar, can I switch gears with you because I have a question here.”
“You can switch gears with me anytime,” LaVar responded.
“Let’s stay focused here,” a surprised Qerim shot back at LaVar, who was seated beside Stephen A. Smith.
At the end of Monday’s First Take, Qerim joked about calling ESPN’s human resources department following her exchange with LaVar.
“If anyone’s calling HR today, it’s me,” Qerim said.
This isn’t the first time LaVar has made a crude comment during an in-air appearance. Back in May 2017, LaVar told Kristine Leahy, then the co-host on FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd, to “stay in your lane” when she asked how many pairs of his Big Baller Brand shoes had been sold.
When host Colin Cowhed interjected to point out Leahy was a reporter, LaVar shot back without looking at her, “She can report to whoever she want behind her.”
Among those calling out LaVar’s comments were former Eagles defender Chris Long and former ESPN personality Jemele Hill, who credited Querim for how she handled the awkward situation.
“No chance ESPN or FS1 will heed this. Zero,” The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch wrote in response to Hill’s comment.
Former ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman, who was among the first to interview LaVar on television during his sons’ time in Lithuania in 2018, once again apologized to viewers.
First Take’s Twitter account was flooded with clips featuring LaVar’s appearance on the show Monday morning, but none included the inappropriate comment he made to Querim.
“LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that,” an ESPN spokesperson told the Inquirer. Denise White, the CEO of EAG Sports Management, which represents LaVar, wrote on Twitter that his comments were not “intended or meant to be sexual in nature.”
In the past, ESPN personalities have criticized the network for giving LaVar air time. ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas called him “a misogynistic buffoon that is not worthy of our time and attention,” while Pardon the Interruption host Michael Wilbon said it was “editorial malpractice” for ESPN to give LaVar air time, calling it “worse than reality TV.” SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt wrote on Twitter back in 2017 that he doesn’t consider LaVar to be newsworthy.