Jalen Rose says he tried to like hell to have a conversation with LaVar Ball in the hours and days after an on-air incident with his wife ... but, "I have not been able to track him down."
Remember, Rose's wife, Molly Qerim -- one of the hosts of "First Take" found herself in the middle of a major controversy over comments LaVar made to her during a June 17 episode ... comments some people found sexist and inappropriate.
While trying to switch topics, Ball told Molly ... "You can switch gears with me anytime."
After the episode, ESPN condemned Ball's comments and said they had no plans to bring him on air again any time soon.
Enter Rose ... who says people have FALSELY claimed that Molly pushed ESPN to 'ban' Ball. Rose says ignorant fans have been wrongly harassing Molly, claiming she took down another black man.
Jalen is pissed ... saying Molly wasn't trying to take out ANYONE -- and suggestions she has it out for LaVar because he's black is just stupid.
"Y’all know she’s married to a black husband, right?" Rose said ... "She’s been doing this for 15 years. She knows how to navigate. She knows how to take care of herself."
Rose also says Molly made her position CRYSTAL CLEAR when she spoke with TMZ Sports the day after the incident ... saying decisions about "banning" Ball are above her pay grade.
Rose says he has a lot of respect for Ball for what he's accomplished -- and reached out to him multiple times to talk things out ... but they haven't been able to connect.
Sounds like he wants a civil conversation ... he's not looking for a fight.
For his part, LaVar says his comment was not meant to come off as sexual in nature -- claiming he sincerely just wanted to switch topics.