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EXCLUSIVE

Molly Qerim ESPN 'Had My Back' After Lavar Ball Comments

Molly Qerim is breaking her silence after the LaVar Ball incident on "First Take" -- telling TMZ Sports she's grateful for the way ESPN execs "had my back" after the way LaVar talked to her on-air.

"ESPN was really supportive," Qerim told us Tuesday morning in NYC ... "All the executives had my back. Much appreciated."

The network quickly condemned Ball's comments to Qerim on Monday as "inappropriate" -- when he told her, "You can switch gears with me anytime."

We asked Molly if LaVar (or anyone in the Ball family) had reached out to apologize -- and she told us, "I haven't heard from anybody, but to be honest with you I shut my phone off after work."

As for her how famous NBA star husband, Jalen Rose, handled the situation -- Molly says, "I think Jalen would have just liked if [LaVar] would have apologized to me publicly."

Does Molly think ESPN should ban LaVar from coming back on "First Take" or any other ESPN show? We asked that too ... check out the clip.

For his part, LaVar is adamant the comments were NOT intended to be sexual in nature -- and he insists he meant no disrespect.

LaVar shooting his shot at Molly Qerim during First Take interview? Jalen Rose gonna bust him up lol pic.twitter.com/HeIB9CFIxH

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