(Reuters) - The National Basketball Referees Association came to the defense on Friday of a rookie female referee excoriated by Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul after she slapped the eight-time All-Star with a technical foul.
The technical came in the third quarter of the Clippers' 105-94 loss to Cleveland on Thursday when Paul tried to rush an inbounds pass and referee Lauren Holtkamp would not allow it.
After a brief exchange, the 34-year-old Holtkamp assessed Paul with his 79th career technical foul.
"After review, the calls made by Ms. Holtkamp are fully justified," the NBRA said on its Twitter account. "We deplore the unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul."
After the game, Paul said the technical foul was a "terrible" call.
"We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, 'Uh-uh.' I said, 'Why, uh-uh?' And she gave me a tech," he told reporters.
"That's ridiculous. If that's the case, this might not be for her."
Many took Paul's remarks as a slap at her gender.
NBRA general counsel Lee Seham said in a statement the union "deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs."
Holtkamp has been a referee at many levels of basketball, including the NBA Development League and the WNBA. She is one of two current full-time female officials in the NBA.
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Sandra Maler)