It’s easy, right?
Not exactly. NBA players are the best athletes in the world and a typical game unfolds at break-neck speeds. It takes experience referees familiar with players’ idiosyncrasies to correctly call a game.
Officiating is more than just memorizing a rule book and blowing a whistle when an infraction occurs. There are nuisances and subtleties that can only be learned through experience and constant study.
Fans may boo or shout at the television set when they think a ref has cost their favorite team a win, but for the most part the zebras get it right.
Inexperience referees run the risk of messing with the flow and fluidity of the game. Not to mention the typical immaturity of NBA players pushes the limit of even the most experienced ref.
One can only imagine what the spoiled NBA brat will do to fresh blood. The inmates could very well run the asylum.
The NBA used replacement officials before, way back in 1995. The results were not good.
This time the NBA says it has a more experienced pool of officials to draw from. The league will tap whistle blowers from the WNBA and the D-league. In ’95 they employed CBA and collegiate refs.
The NBA considers the WNBA and D-League officials “part of the family” and referees versed in the mechanics and interpretations of league rules.
Certainly they are improvements over the ’95 replacements but fans can still expect inconsistencies and head-scratching whistles. Until the permanent refs return, every NBA game runs the risk of getting out of control. If you thought players and coaches complained before, just wait.
The other interesting aspect of this lockout is reason the behind it. The sticking point in the negotiations is not salary but retirement benefits, travel budgets and per diems. The 57 fulltime NBA referees have already agreed to a $2.5 million cut in pay and a two year freeze on raises.
Meanwhile, franchises are cutting the salary of front office personnel. For instance, some employees with the Miami Heat have taken up to a 20 percent cut in pay in an effort to avoid layoffs.
Maybe the refs need to accept Commissioner David Stern’s proposal and just be thankful they have a job. Maybe the refs need to take a stand and fight for what they believe they deserve.
Regardless of your opinion on what the referees should or should not do, the question still remains what sacrifices are the players making in these tough economy times?
The answer seems to be very little.
Maybe a small concession by the NBPA would facilitate a contract for the refs or at least inspire them to settle for less.