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Report: Adidas told referees to lay off LaVar Ball in Vegas

Sporting News logo Sporting News 7/28/2017 Marcus DiNitto

LaVar Ball © (Getty Images) LaVar Ball Referees at Adidas’ AAU basketball tournament in Las Vegas this week have been implored by the shoe company to let LaVar Ball’s sideline antics slide, because of the blustering patriarch's drawing power and also because the brand may be interested in signing his son, Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, to an endorsement deal, ESPN.com reports.

A source told the website that refs have been told by Adidas officials to "put three officials on the game who will keep (LaVar) in the building" while the Big Baller Brand squad he coaches is competing.

One referee either didn’t get the message or ignored it, as she slapped Ball with a technical foul Friday. After he threatened to pull his team off the court, she was removed from the game.

Adidas acknowledged it was the company's decision to take the ref off the game.

"There was some miscommunication," said Chris Rivers, Adidas director of global basketball sports marketing, per ESPN. "The NBA don't put certain people with certain guys, either. If there's a history or miscommunication, that happens."

During his team’s win Thursday, Ball told a different ref, "You're the worst (expletive) ref who ever lived."

Said the source, "Under normal circumstances, the sideline behavior, including profanity and sideline antics, would have demanded a technical foul under the category of disrespecting the game."

Ya think?

But, the source added, "Due to strong messaging (from Adidas) to extend those guidelines in an effort to keep (LaVar Ball) in the gym, the officiating crew felt uncomfortable enforcing the technical foul rule for actions that clearly warranted (action)."

Related slideshow: Grading NBA Draft (provided by Fox Sports)

Now, No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has those same qualities. To a degree, he's an even better scorer and shooter than Ball, and he's probably a more skilled pick-and-roll ball-handler.The difference between the two top picks comes on the defensive end of the floor. Both have the physical tools to become phenomenal defenders at the point guard position. They're tall, long, and move exceptionally well from side-to-side.One player is actually engaged on defense, however, while the other looks completely disinterested. Can you guess which is which?Here's a hint — the lackadaisical defender's team went 9-22 during the 2016-17 college basketball season and spent the NCAA Tournament watching the games from the couch.Fultz showed up when Washington played UCLA, outperforming Ball in that one game. But one game doesn't make an NBA career, and the fact that Fultz only wanted to get up for the biggest competition is a glaring mark against the first pick. NBA Draft grades for all 30 teams, from the Lakers (A+) to the Bulls (F-)
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