Blog Entry

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

Posted on: September 18, 2009 4:18 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2009 5:51 pm
The NBA formally notified the union representing its 57 active referees Friday that it was imposing a lockout, saying the rejection of its latest contract offer left "no choice but to begin using replacement referees."

Lamell McMorris, lead negotiator for the referees, told that he received formal notice of the lockout from the league shortly after 3 p.m. ET. Replacement refs will convene next week for the annual training camp for officials, although the timing of the camp is undecided based on the logistical challenges of convening replacements.

If the NBA and its referees' union can't agree on a new two-year contract before Oct. 27, replacement referees will officiate regular season games for the first time since 1995.

UPDATE: After McMorris spent the past week making headlines with swipes at commissioner David Stern and the league's staunch negotiating stance, the league took some swings of its own in the memo distributed Friday to teams and the media. In addition to pointing out that the league agreed to negotiate an unusually short two-year agreement -- "so that the referees would be able to renegotiate as the economy improves" -- the NBA hit the refs where it will hurt most in the eyes of public opinion.

"Under the prior collective bargaining agreement, which expired on September 1, referees were awarded enhanced retirement bonuses of up to $575,000, on top of pension benefits that could exceed $2 million," the league's news release stated. "These retirement benefits, which the NBA has proposed to change, were in addition to compensation of almost $150,000 per year for entry level referees and over $550,000 per year for the most senior referees." League officials and negotiators clearly know that fans, who already have a negative impression of refs, will go through the roof when they read how much they make. Class Warfare 101.

“The proposals we have made to the NBRA are extraordinarily fair and reasonable, given the current economic circumstances,” said Rick Buchanan, the NBA’s executive vice president and general counsel. “Since late 2008, the league and our teams have made far deeper cuts in non-referee headcount and expenses than we are asking for here. It is extremely disappointing that the NBRA has ignored the economic realities, rejected our offer, and left us with no choice but to begin using replacement referees.”

UPDATE: The refs and McMorris convened in Chicago earlier this week and unanimously rejected the NBA's latest proposal. After the refs stayed in Chicago for a night-long strategy session, Buchanan rejected their counterproposal Thursday. The tenor of the negotiating conference call was bleak, according to sources, one of whom said both sides agreed: "We have nothing further to discuss."

But the league and the referees' union can't seem to agree on much else, including the exact issues they disagree on. McMorris cited only one issue as standing in the way of a deal, describing it as "systemic changes" to the refs' retirement benefits. Two sources with knowledge of the negotiations told that the issue in question is a severance benefit that has been available to referees leaving their jobs at age 55 and older. The NBA wants to phase out that benefit, and has accused McMorris of agreeing to modifications more than a month ago and then reversing course.

League sources also have cited two additional roadblocks to a deal: An NBA plan to integrate WNBA and D-League officials into a limited number of early season games for evaluation and training purposes, and a proposal to convert the refs' traditional pensions to 401-Ks. League sources disagree with McMorris' assertion to on Thursday that the refs have made $1 million in concessions and that the financial gap between the two sides has essentially been closed.

UPDATE: McMorris has stoked concern that extended use of replacement refs during the regular season could result in player injuries due to a lack of control by inexperienced officials. This theory has credence due to the league's rapid expansion of instant replay authority for officials -- presenting inexperienced refs with complicated review guidelines -- and also in light of frequent controversies during the 2009 playoffs over the threshold for flagrant fouls. During the Lakers' playoff series against Houston -- in which Ron Artest's flagrant foul against Pau Gasol became one of many such calls changed upon review by the league office -- Kobe Bryant called the interpretation of flagrants "so subjective, it's ridiculous. ... We've got to address that."

The refs picked up another unlikely supporter on Friday when Shaquille O'Neal voiced his support. Attending a charity event in Orlando, O'Neal told AOL Fanhouse: "The refs have been vital to this league for a long time. They should be treated accordingly. We need perfection out there. We don't need second best. The league needs to get this done.''

Category: NBA
Tags: lockout, NBA, referees

Since: Sep 21, 2009
Posted on: September 21, 2009 10:37 am

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

This whole thing of a lock out scares.  These games with replacement officials are going to be out of control due to the lack of their experience and talent level.  

Do any of you you have any idea how difficult it is to officiate an NBA game? I know you don't, and neither do I. But what I do know is that basketball is the single most difficult sport to officiate on the planet, hands down. The size and speed of the players makes it extremely difficult. These players are so clever and crafty - they flop to try to fool the referees, they grab another player to make it look like they're the one being grabbed. It never ends. The referees only have a split second to make a decision. Sounds pretty easy right? That's why you sit in your comfortable chair in front of your 42" plasma and criticize them.

Just about every call in basketball is subjective. There is so much contact on the floor, don't you think it might be difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal contact? Everyone has their opinion on every play. Visualize a typical block vs charge play...some might say it's a block, other's say its a charge, others say it's a flop, others say it's a no call. AND THAT'S JUST 1 PLAY! If the official makes a decision that is different from yours, everyone says they simply suck. Who determines whether its right or not? You? The team who favors from the call? The media? The commentators (who are sometimes CLUELESS about officiating)?

Look, the NBA referees are the best referees in the WORLD. Do you have any clue how big the disparity of talent level there is from NCAA refs? It is a joke. Just sit closely to the TV this season and watch the Division I NCCA referees. The games are officiated so poorly. Officials are scared of coaches who will cross their names off their list if they make tough calls against them, or god forbid give them a technical foul for MFing them down the sideline, it's pathetic.

NBA referees have the best training. Unlike NCAA referees, the NBA officials review every single game they officiate. I bet you didn't know that a typical NBA crew only misses about 5-7% of calls on a given night, give or take a few percentages. A college crew might miss about 25-30%, and that's being generous. There is no training in college basketball. Each conference wants the games called their own specific way. For example, the Big East likes the games to be called loosely, while the SEC wants to clean up post play because it's too rough. The ACC wants the referees to be more liberal with hand checking. All these officials mix and match in these conferences night in and night out. How do you expect them to be good or consistent? Impossible. They don't review video, nor are they held accountable for missed plays. They just move on to the next city and collect their hefty checks.

Another reason why the NBA has "older" officials is because EXPERIENCE is crucial to be a successful referee. There's a reason why there aren't 18-20 year olds refereeing on the NBA floor. There's a lot of training and development a referee must go through, and that takes several years.

So lets think about this...lets say there's a lockout for the preseason and the 1st month of the regular season. The league will bring in people from the NBA D-League, WNBA, some from college ranks, and those who have tried out but failed to make it. I can only imagine the chaos that will go on. These referees have no credibility or believability. Every call they make will be wrong, even if they're right. Games will be called inconsistently, players will be frustrated when they pick up a bogus 2nd foul in the 1st quarter and have to sit until the end of the half. It will be a disaster. BUT, this is actually good. The NBA, the fans, owners, players and GM's have to see how bad the officiating is to make them realize how good they really had it. You don't realize a good thing until it's taken away from you. I'm all for this lockout. Go referees, take a stand. You're the best in the world, and you deserve to be compensated for it.

I would love for you to watch as many preseason games as possible and see the disaster for yourself. Thanks for letting me state my opinion.

Since: Aug 4, 2007
Posted on: September 19, 2009 7:17 am


The refs are in trouble! Every comment here has been negative and public opinion is a huge factor!!!The NBA will feel no pressure to relent. And just how are these clowns going to find other jobs that pay that kind of money? At least the players have some argument as to why they make their ridiculous salaries---they fill the seats and generate REVENUE. The beer man brings in more money than a ref. That's it!!!! I'm going to form a beer man union, declare myself president, and make a million bucks. Of course, the beer men will get locked out and be replaced but I'll have made a fortune. You zebras better WAKE UP!

Since: Aug 4, 2007
Posted on: September 19, 2009 7:13 am

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

The refs are in trouble! Every comment here has been negative and public opinion is a huge factor!!!The NBA will feel no pressure to relent. And just how are these clowns going to find other jobs that pay that kind of money? At least the players have some argument as to why they make their ridiculous salaries---they fill the seats and generate REVENUE. The beer man brings in more money than a ref. That's it!!!! I'm going to form a beer man union, declare myself president, and make a million bucks. Of course, the beer men will get locked out and be replaced but I'll have made a fortune. You zebras better WAKE UP!

Since: Sep 14, 2008
Posted on: September 19, 2009 6:58 am

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

So, Where can I sign up to be a replacement ref????  I will gladly quit my job to ref NBA games for 150K a year.  I can appreciate not wanting to forgoe any retirement benefits as that money will make a bigger difference in their lives than an extra 5% in pay for the next 2 years or other traditional sources of contention between unions and management.  But, what a huge failure on the part of the Ref's Union to not come to an agreement with the NBA and end up with a lockout.  Obviously Refs contribute to the game, but its crazy arrogant to think that at 150K to 550K a year that you are irreplaceable. I think this is a case where unionization will have really hurt them.With that being said, sign me up, I will gladly step in and piss off fans everywhere.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2009 2:39 am

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

Dude awesome point.  People forget Unions were formed to protect the *LITTLE* guy back in the day when they were severely exploited.  There would be debate about who is exploited today.  Not for this forum.

I think you would find that a majority of people are asking the same question.  Why the hell does someone makig $150K need a union.   ESP when their profession is not in harms way.    I can see the NFL players in a roundabuot way (even then I disagree but Ill concede the point) but NBA refs is pointless.

Since: Aug 24, 2008
Posted on: September 19, 2009 1:16 am

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

The refs in the NBA have been horrible for a long time, so this could be a good thing. Only as long as the "replacements" do not fall into the way of calling fouls for superstars.  The NBA definatley needs more un-biased officiating so that it's a "fair" field of play.

More than likely is not going to happen as the stand-ins will try and prove themselves.  But... Here's hoping for some quality officiating to make some better basketball!  I'm tired of the Kobe Bryant calls and the Lebron James' calls!  Not saying that they aren't amazing, but don't deserve cheap calls! 

And for anyone to call me a homer...  Even Carmelo Anthony doesn't deserve them, because it hurts the integrity of the game.

GO Nuggets!!

Since: Sep 18, 2009
Posted on: September 18, 2009 11:05 pm

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

I had no idea that refs make that kind of cash.

It is becoming more apparent to me that maybe all of these economic woes we are experiencing are caused by corporate greed and stupidity. I know we are talking about corporations here, but the mentality is the same. Some people just want to make tons of cash for little to no work and do not care how it may affect others.

According to this article, an entry level referee is paid $150,000 a year. What requirements are there to be one of these guys? Run up and down a court for 2 hours a couple nights a week and that's about it is all I can think. I am assuming (ya ya I know) that these referees at the professional level already have a deep understanding of the rules of basketball otherwise they wouldn't have gotten a foot in the door. So what else is there to justify paying these guys that amount of money. Are there that many rule changes in a year that these guys spend their "off-season" in classes and having to learn large number of new rules or changes? I doubt it seriously.

Fire all of the referees and hire new ones that aren't in a union. Unions don't work the same as they used to. There was a time when unions fought for the rights of all workers. Nowadays, it seems more like they are only concerned with their dues-paying members and could care less how their actions affect other people.

Since: Mar 13, 2007
Posted on: September 18, 2009 11:03 pm

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

I for one am sick of watching Kobe lean in to players while shooting just to get his plus one or go to the line. No one shoots like that. actually thats leagal and a lot of players have been doing that for along time

if you are deffending me and i pump fake you and you jump in the air if i jump shoot into you thats a foul on you

and the fact that you mentioned __incert team__ living off the reffs

and you didnt mention the lebronaliers clearly shows a lack of basketball knowledge

Since: Jan 2, 2009
Posted on: September 18, 2009 8:12 pm

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

These dudes are NUTZ!

They seem to think that they have some bargaining power.  They have nothing!

There are thousands of good, capable referree's who would be thrilled to make a living refereeing (is that how you spell?) NBA games.  The Ref's bargaining chip is that players will be injured if they bring in replacement refs?  LOL...I am dying laughing.  What a bunch of jokers.

The leauge will fire all these guys (isn't that what MLB did a few years ago?) and they will all be crying during interviews saying how being a referree was their whole life and now they are totally screwed. 

Guess what idiots?!?  ANY good college or D league ref could do what you do and they will do it for a lot less.  As many other posts mentioned already, the current refs have all sorts of biases and preferences which make each game unique and what difference does it make if you bring a ref in from NCAA or D league?  They might actually call travelling?  Last time I checked the only difference between NBA and NCAA was the 3 point line (and maybe the shot clock) but those things are pretty obvious and posted right on the court.

Good riddance Joey Crawford and the rest of you clowns.  It's your own fault that you no longer have a job...let alone a job making 250k /year average travelling around calling NBA games.

Hope you guys don't have ARM mortgages coming up :)

Since: Dec 12, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2009 8:06 pm

NBA formally locks out referees (UPDATE)

The best part about this is that the NBA has acted swiftly and stands firm on their action instead of dragging it out. The NBA holds all the cards in this one so the refs should take what they are offered. simple as that.

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