Fox Sports' Kristine Leahy Addresses Contentious Back-And-Forth With LaVar Ball
FS1's Kristine Leahy addressed the contentious back-and-forth exchange she shared with LaVar Ball on Fox Sports Radio's "The Herd" yesterday, noting he has "every right to disagree with anything that I say" but adding she would like it "to be respectful." Leahy said, "I asked him a question -- that is my job as a reporter. He came back at me in a dismissive and inappropriate way, so I had two choices: I could sit back and take it, or I could stand up for myself and talk to him, still with complete respect." Leahy added, "This is a guy who's called people losers who can't afford his shoes. He's made weight jokes, and now he did what he just did today. I understand this is a big thing for him and we were all talking about him and it was almost a funny game sort of. At this point it's not, and I would actually love to have him back on the show. I know a lot of people are saying we should never have him on again. I would love to if he would like to come, look me in the eye and talk to me as a person. He can disagree with everything I say, but let's do it man-to-man." FS1's Colin Cowherd noted things "got hot" on yesterday's show and said Leahy "did what a great sportscaster would do -- she probed and pushed." Cowherd: "I thought he was inappropriate, I thought he crossed a line. And I think Kristine, as she's done since I've known her, is a great reporter, doesn't back down from anybody and called him on his BS." FS1's Jason Whitlock said, "The line of 'stay in your lane, keep in your lane' -- that to me sounds a lot like 'stay in the kitchen.' That to me sounds like the epitome of sexism, not looking someone in the eyes" ("Speak for Yourself," FS1, 5/17).
WHAT HAPPENED: Ball yesterday was talking about Big Baller Brand's new ZO2 shoe and said the company has "sold a good amount.” Leahy asked, “How many?” Ball told her, “Stay in your lane.” He put his hand up toward Leahy and turned to Cowherd, saying, “I don’t even worry about her over there.” Leahy: “I think that’s kind of disrespectful.” Ball: “I don’t look over there because she scares me. Leave me alone. I’ll tell you: 400-500 pairs.” Cowherd noted Leahy is a “reporter, her job is to report.” Ball: “She can report to whoever she wants behind her.” Leahy asked, “What is your problem with me?” Ball: “My problem is you are a hater.” Ball then mocked Leahy and spoke in a high-pitched voice, “I would never wear a Big Baller shirt.” Leahy admitted she “wouldn’t wear something as a woman” from Big Baller. Leahy: "If you want to work with Nike, adidas and Under Armour, then maybe have something that appeals to women.” Cowherd called that a "pretty good point.” But Ball replied, “It’s a good point because y’all friends. I’m not friends with her.” Leahy: "In order to have a successful company, you’re going to have to have women who like your brand.” Ball: “Yeah, if you have a women’s company.” Cowherd later in the interview mentioned Whitlock previously criticized Ball, to which Ball replied, "I don’t think he can comment on anything but snacks.” Leahy: "So you disrespect women and people for their weight?” Ball: “That’s what you say. I didn’t say nothing about no weight.” Ball again told Leahy to “keep in your lane,” with Leahy saying, “Can you look me in the eye?” Ball: “I don’t want to look you in the eye. You scare me to death.” Ball later said, “I never disrespect women.” But Leahy noted, “You did on the show today.” Ball: “If you act like that, guess what? Something’s coming to you.” Leahy: “Are you threatening me?” (“The Herd,” Fox Sports Radio, 5/17).
BREAKING IT DOWN: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote the "best way to summarize" the back-and-forth between Leahy and Ball was that it "accomplished what Cowherd was trying to get: Friction radio." Cowherd, who later acknowledged he "didn’t try to defend or assist Leahy as she and Ball had some sort of verbal exchanges made to sound worse than they really were, was also letting her twist in the wind through the whole thing." Hoffarth: "It’s a self-inflicted, very whiny Leahy move when she didn’t get the 'respect' she apparently demanded in the situation" (INSIDESOCAL.com, 5/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Devine wrote, "Maybe you think this is much ado about nothing." But it "seems fair to say that the way he went about it -- refusing to look at Leahy the entire time, dismissively telling her to stay in her lane" -- left an "awful lot to be desired" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/17).