• Brian L. Barefield

Intentions vs Reception: Was ESPN Right For Banning Lavar Ball Over "Shift Gears Comments?"

Lavar Ball appears with Stephen A. Smith on First Take

So for those of you all who know me, you know I call myself a "Saved Hypocrite." That term means that I am a believer in Christ that does some hypocritical things. Look. Don't judge me you don't know my life. So as a "Saved Hypocrite" that means I am able to call out hypocrisy when I see it.

Earlier this month Lavar Ball who is the father of NBA point guard Lonzo Ball made an appearance on ESPN's morning show First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman. This wasn't Lavar's first time on but probably would be his last. Host Molly Qerim asked him a question and the exchange went like this..

"LaVar, can I switch gears with you, because I have a question here," Qerim said.

"You can switch gears with me anytime," Ball responded.

That sent a shockwave throughout our country as some seen Lavar's comments as sexist and inappropriate. Social media was quickly set a blaze by what some deemed as a form of sexual harassment. But there was others out there that defended Ball by saying he was just responding to the question and made reference to a switching gears hand gesture he did to signify they were actually switching subjects.

ESPN was quick to respond to the incident by putting out a statement to the media.

"LaVar Ball's comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that." They would go on to say that Mr. Ball was banned from all ESPN studios and its affiliates.

The Ball family representatives also put out a statement to TMZ that his comments were not meant to be sexual.

"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."

Also, there is a video clip floating around from a First Take segment back in 2017 in L.A. where the same "Switch Gears" question was asked and Mr. Ball said sure while making the trucker hand gesture of switching gears. That's where the interesting part comes in.

Look. I am not a certified linguist. So when I tell you that I am not an expert in language like that. Please believe that the truth is being told. Do I have a problem in what Lavar said? No. I don't feel like his intentions were to toss any sexual innuendos towards a married woman. Especially one that is married to a man that he has much respect for in ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose. But I will not discount the way Mrs. Rose received the statement.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sexual harassment is defined as: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

In Layman's terms that means you must watch what you say no matter how harmless you think it is. The person who is hearing what you are saying could take it differently and feel that you have made a sexual advance towards them.

Lavar flirted too closely to that line and that has him temporarily banned from the "Mothership." I used temporary because as soon as the trade is finalized between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, Lavar will be bombarded with calls to come on some of their programs to talk about the Lonzo/Zion connection.

Don't get it twisted. This media game is about ratings and depending on which day it is, most ESPN shows are looking up to other sports networks in terms of ratings. That Lavar interview has gone viral which means that the executives over at ESPN is loving it. More clicks means more advertising dollars and at the end of the day thats exactly what it's all about. Money. Why do you think Lavar has been on their network so many times? He boosts the ratings. His asinine comments are radio and television gold and behind the scenes the brass at ESPN are loving it and capitalizing off of it.

If I had to take a guess I would say the apology from Ball will come around August in a public statement written by the publicist at ESPN. Mrs. Rose will go on and publicly accept them and the Ball circus will start all over again and I will be front row waiting on the next "Click Bait" antic to take place.

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