Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  33 responses

NBA Referees Get Younger, Taller

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

Since forever, NBA fans and media alike have moaned and complained about the referees’ incompetence. The last few years, however, the criticism seems to have intensified, with a particular gripe being the age of the men with the whistles.

Four NBA refs (with an average age of 53) will no longer be running up and down the court starting next season, but an iconic (and really old one) refuses to go despite the push from the League.

The NY Times
reports on the four departing officials, and a new one who’ll be able to look players directly in their eyes:

Four veteran referees with a combined 72 seasons of N.B.A. experience have retired or moved on: Joe DeRosa, Joe Forte, Sean Corbin and Phil Robinson. The vacancies will be filled by five Development League referees, one of whom will stand out for his size if nothing else. Kevin Cutler, who is 6 feet 8 inches, will be one of the two tallest officials in N.B.A. history. Cutler, 42, became a curiosity in N.B.A. arenas last season when he refereed a half dozen games as part of an initiative aimed at preparing top prospects. Four others who participated in that program — Brent Barnaky, Nick Buchert, Josh Tiven and James Williams — have also been promoted.

The 60-person staff for 2010-11 will be younger and less experienced, continuing a recent trend. The league has lost several seasoned referees over the last half decade, mostly to injury or retirement. Steve Javie, one of the league’s best referees, nearly joined that group but will return for a 25th season … Dick Bavetta, who turns 71 in December, is returning for his 36th season despite persistent rumblings that the league is pushing him to retire.

Keep fighting the power (and these ageists), Bavetta!

It’s clear that the League is listening to its critics when it comes to refs, and looking to find solutions. It remains to be seen if younger officials means they’ll call the games any better.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    About time.

  • Squirrel7

    Don’t think “with a combined age of 53″ is correct……

  • Marcel Mutoni

    fixed. thx, Squirrel7.

  • JTaylor21

    Yeah at least it’s a step in the right direction. You can’t be having guys who attend the same BINGO sessions Jukai does, running up and down the sidelines with great athletes.

  • Squirrel7

    No worries. And I know that there’s only 1 and a bigger pitch, as opposed to 3 and a smaller court, but in Europe, football (soccer) referees have to retire when they get to 45! So for Bavetta to still be going strong at 71 is pretty darn impressive……

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Hey… those BINGO sessions are the business!? Great for picking up a more… experienced woman.

  • dsleepy

    who’s the ref that hates tim duncan? the bald one? he needs to retire.

  • http://Slamonline.com Pippen Ain’t Easy

    Dick “Iron Man” Bavetta. 2nd most known ref.

    guess who’s the first?

  • Morgan

    @dsleepy: Joey Crawford…its almost comical how biased he is towards some players.

  • JoeMaMa

    The refs are getting younger and taller. They’re also betting more money and fixing more games. Coming to a playoff game near you.

  • ben

    Oh no! But we need more refs like this who call technicals for “bringing the crowd down.”


  • http://www.reboundghana.com mtee

    @Pippen…I guess it shd be Donaghy….hehehhe…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Now the refs can see the fouls, travels, etc that they aren’t going to call on LeBron and Kobe…sweet…

  • http://thekobebeef.wordpress.com LDR4

    They need to stop the cronyism at the NBA Referee’s offices. Oh, and Bavetta needs to GO!

  • Royal

    I wonder if there has been (or will ever be) a former player referee, that would be interesting

  • Hussman25

    Isn’t Heywood Workman a ref? He’s a former player. After all his flopping, Vlade would be a great ref.

  • JTaylor21

    @Dacre, by experience do you mean that she experienced the great depression.

  • JoeMaMa

    NBA refs are getting younger and taller, which I guess is good. But they’re also gambling more and fixing more games, which isn’t so good. Also, Dick Bavetta told me that it’s his wish to die on the court. Of course he didn’t say that. But who doesn’t believe such a thing!?

  • hangtime Hec

    This is all nice and dandy but Joey Crawford is still a referee, and that enrages me.

  • http://www.dontevenreply.com total scrotal implosion

    Joey crawford should have been put out to pasture years ago. 08 wcf gift to lal should have been last straw

  • http://slamonline.com nikehead23

    get over it queer

  • http://dsjkfl.com Jukai

    I love a Spurs fan complaining about ‘preferred treatment of other teams’ with their 2007 BS championship hanging from the rafters.

  • hammer

    Props 2 bavetta. I knew he was old but D-ZAM! 71!? That’s crazy ese! Dudes tuff tho. Still able 2 run up and down w/these yung uns is pretty amazing. And he’s a good,fair official. 1 of the best if not the best zebra n the L. Can we still call em zebras tho they don’t wear the black and white? Oh well. What the hell

  • barnabusb

    The NBA needs to groom ex-college players to be refs if they’re not going to make the pros or play in Europe. Anyone who loves the game and wants to be part of it at the professional level would probably love to make ref salary/benefits and contribute.

  • http://twitter.com/pdxgaybball dma

    while reffing is impressive, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. you only run/jog half the court at a time. and when you get winded, you call some crappy hand-check foul to slow the pace of the game down.

  • hammer

    @dma. Yeah. Tru. But not when ur freakin 71 yrs old man! Most 70 somethings can’t even walk on their own let alone as u put “run/jog.” Or is it ‘yogging” as will farrel would say. Its amazing 4 seniors like bavetta @ that age 2 do so

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    This is good in theory, but has anyone considered that D-League refs are in the D-League and not the NBA for a reason?

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    NBA, where new Refs happen?

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Always kind of liked Bavetta.

  • http://www.dontevenreply.com total scrotal implosion

    Jukai must be one of those butthurt delusional suns fans. Amare and boris came running onto the court, got suspended for one game, horry too. Tell me, what happened the rest of that series? Yea, thought so. Go watch your 06 and 07 first round tapes and look back on your ‘glory years’. You must be too ignorant to see that the league has done all it can to stop the spurs. Brent barry would have hit free throws to at least send the game to ot, but joey said no. Next day, league said it was an obvious foul and should have been called. Surely, you are aware of crawfords utter hate for timmy. But, its not just that, crawford is just terrible in general.

  • MikeC.

    New refs. Finally. Is Violet Palmer still reffing or did they finally put an end to her?

  • barnabusb

    No love for my idea? Sad face.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    ^ barnabusb: That sounds like a pretty good idea, actually. I can dig it. Now “turn that frown, upside down!” …………