ESPN has condemned the comment LaVar Ball made toward 'First Take' host Molly Qerim on Monday's show.
“LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that,” an ESPN spokesperson said in a statement released to multiple media outlets including NBC.
The incident occurred as Qerim attempted to steer the conversation back on track, saying she'd like to "switch gears."
To that, Ball responded “you can switch gears with me anytime.” Qerim appeared momentarily rattled telling Ball to “stay focused.”
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Former ESPN reporter Jemele Hill then praised her reaction.
“Kudos to Molly Qerim for the professional way she handled LaVar Ball after his inappropriate comment,” she said on Twitter. “Maybe ESPN will have finally learned its lesson about putting him on TV.”
On Tuesday, Qerim told TMZ that “ESPN was really supportive. All the executives had my back. Much appreciated.” She also said that she hasn’t been offered an apology by LaVar or anyone in his family.
However, a spokesperson for Ball says that the situation is being misinterpreted.
“[LaVar] was asked if he wanted to switch gears,” Denise White said in a statement to TMZ. “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.”
But Monday’s comment was not Ball's first on-air incident involving a female reporter. In 2017, he told Fox Sport 1’s Kristine Leahy to “stay in your lane” when she asked about his brand’s shoe sales.
When host Colin Cowherd stepped in to defend Leahy for doing her job, Ball responded: “she can report to whoever she wants behind her.”