Are you ready for the whistle & lanyard?

25 09 2008

From the quiz NBA’s Director of Officiating Programs and Development Joe Borgia gave to the media:  (Originally Posted on

  • A defender must be in position when an offensive player gathers the ball in order to draw an offensive foul. FALSE. The key moment is not when the player gathers the ball. It’s when he begins his upward motion.
  • A team has 30 seconds to replace an ejected player. FALSE. A team has 30 seconds to replace a player who has fouled out with six fouls. But if your’e ejected, a replacement is due immediately. 
  • Player A1 is injured as the result of a flagrant foul assessed to player B1. Following his two free throw attempts, player A1 is unable to resume play. He may return to the game at a later point. TRUE. If he shoots those free throws, he’s available. 
  • Player A1′s poor frontcourt pass is in the air over the midcourt line. Player A3 jumps from the frountcourt, secures possession of the ball over the backcourt, and calls for a timeout. The timeout should not be granted. TRUEIf the ball has broken the plane of the sidelines or the mid-court line, and you’re not inside the boundary yourself, you can’t call timeout.
  • Defender B5 is in the key area and not actively guarding any opponent. He steps three feet off the court on the baseline directly under the backboard. The three-second count stops. FALSE. The key area extends four feet deep off the court under the basket.
  • Player A3 commits a traveling violation in his frontcourt at 1:23 of the third period. Substitute A6 is walking towards the table but not within the substitution box. He may not enter the game. FALSEIn the last two minutes of periods, referees now (it wasn’t always this way) allow reasonable time for teams to get the players they want on the floor, even if they’re not waiting in the box.
  • The official hands Player A1 the ball to attempt his final free throw. It is now noticed that Team B has six players on the court. The official will stop play prior to the free throw being released and assess Team B with a technical foul. FALSE. Teams have until the free throw is released to recognize and correct the problem before being penalized.
  • Offensive player A5 is assessed a flagrant foul penalty 1 when he turns into defender B5 with an extended elbow. No free throws will be attempted since this is an offensive foul. FALSE. It’s a flagrant foul which deserves free throws no matter where it occurs.
  • Player A1 throws a poor pass over A2′s head. As A2 goes for the ball he pushes B2 out of the way. A loose ball foul should be assessed to player A2. FALSE. This is a tricky one! It may seem like a loose ball foul, but in fact it’s an offensive foul — which has ramifications for team fouls and bonus. The reason: Team A still has the ball, they are just investigating the idea of ending the possession. But they haven’t actually given up the ball yet.
  • Player B3 receives his second flagrant foul of the game and is ejected. The officials will use instant replay to confirm the ejection. FALSE. Only with a flagrant 2 can instant replay be used to confirm an ejection.

  • NBA “2002″ Series Fixed

    11 06 2008

    2002 Lakers-Kings Game 6 at heart of Donaghy allegations

    LOS ANGELES — Was Game 3 of the 2008 NBA Finals held at the scene of a crime?

    Disgraced ex-referee Tim Donaghy alleged as much Tuesday in a filing made by his attorney in U.S. District Court in New York, saying the highly controversial Game 6 of the Lakers-Kings playoff series in 2002 was impacted by the actions of two of the three referees who worked the game.

    NBA commissioner David Stern vehemently denied the allegations, saying they are the desperate act of a convicted felon. He also disclosed that the league has already briefed members of the U.S. Congress on certain facets of the Donaghy investigation.

    “We welcome scrutiny here. This is something that should be scrutinized,” said Stern, who called Donaghy a “singing, cooperating witness” and repeatedly referred to him as a felon as he spoke with reporters for more than eight minutes near the loading dock of the Staples Center as he arrived for Game 3 of the Finals.

    The allegations are some of the strongest ever made against the NBA, coming at a time when the officiating of this year’s Finals between the Celtics and Lakers has come under heavy scrutiny.

    In the letter submitted by Donaghy’s attorney, the following “manipulation” is alleged:

    Read the complete story!

    League acknowledges Spurs’ Barry was fouled

    28 05 2008

    The league office on Wednesday reviewed the final play of the San Antonio Spurs’ 93-91 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and acknowledged that a two-shot foul should have been called on Derek Fisher for impeding Brent Barry.

    After falling behind by seven points in the final minute, San Antonio sliced the deficit to two and regained possession with 2.1 seconds to play.

    Barry then wound up with the ball in the center of the floor on a play called for Manu Ginobili and faked Fisher in the air but struggled to get off a 3-point heave at the buzzer after Fisher came down and bumped Barry.

    “With the benefit of instant replay, it appears a foul call should have been made,” league spokesman Tim Frank said Wednesday.

    The miss sealed an L.A. victory that moved the Lakers into a commanding 3-1 series lead entering Thursday’s Game 5 at Staples Center.

    But the Spurs did not protest the non-call afterward, even though a foul called before the shot would have sent Barry to the line for two free throws and a chance to force overtime.

    The non-call nonetheless generated more than the usual scrutiny because the closest referee to the play was Joey Crawford, with whom San Antonio has a contentious recent history.

    “That play,” Barry said, “was not where the game was lost.”

    The Spurs, in truth, wouldn’t have had a chance to tie or win the game in the final two seconds if not for a fortuitous non-call on the previous possession.

    Television replays indicated that Fisher’s shot with 6.9 seconds to go grazed the rim before bouncing out of bounds off of Robert Horry’s leg, meaning that the Lakers should have had a new shot clock instead of asking Kobe Bryant to hurry a fadeaway jumper after the ensuing timeout.

    The new shot clock likely would have forced San Antonio to foul Bryant as opposed to getting the ball back off Bryant’s miss to draw up a potential game-winning play.

    “It wasn’t a foul. … I think it was a proper no-call from what I saw,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Fisher bumping Barry.

    Added Spurs forward Tim Duncan: “You’re not going to get that call. They’re not going to make that call.”

    The Lakers were likewise adamant that no foul should have been called on Fisher, pointing at least in part to the fact that they didn’t get a new shot clock on the Fisher miss — and that Bryant didn’t earn a single trip to the free-throw line despite attempting 29 shots from the field.

    “Yeah, he bumped him,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Fisher landing on Barry. “You know, games go like that.”

    Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for To e-mail him, click here.

    Link to ESPN

    Joey Crawford vs Spurs

    16 05 2008

    The Spurs are now 0-2, in the second round, this post-season with Joey Crawford acting as ref.  Funny how both games took place in New Orleans. 

    “An NBA spokesperson said executive vice-president for basketball operations Stu Jackson confirmed that Popovich’s interpretation of the rule about foul line access was correct, but that Crawford was within his rights to make a judgment call that players from both teams had contributed to the delay of the game. “

    So Popovich was correct about the rule, but Crawford can retaliate against the Spurs any way he sees fit?

    Crawford as some may recall was suspended for the balance of the season and playoffs last year after a poorly called game against the Spurs. 

     He’s a horrible ref as we’ve discussed on this site before. 

    The NBA really needs to base their officiating staff on a persons qualifications and not on how long they’ve been in the league.  Ref’s like Crawford, Javie, Delaney, Rush, and Bavetta have become household names.  At the expense of the game.

    Avery Johnson fined $25,000 by NBA

    30 11 2007

    Avery Johnson has finished writing his second book, titled Aspire Higher.

    It provided a way for Johnson to explain his feelings about being fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday for failing to leave the court in a timely fashion after being ejected at Indiana last week.

    The book, due in March, is based on different plans – The D Plan (dedication, determination, desire, decisions), The S Plan (standards, systems, savoring the moment), etc.

    Regarding his fine, he said he would like to add a “C Plan.”

    Read the whole story!

    NBA’s most racist ref releasing new book!

    4 09 2007

    Bob Delaney, the NBA’s most racist ref according to, is releasing a new book in January.

    Delaney was the ref who went undercover and infiltrate thed mob…  secretly went to Florida and started working negotiations outside of his duties and the investigation was quickly closed.  He ended up snitching out many guys he had befriended.  A true NBA ref in the making.  He started officiating some games in order to lose the weight he had gained while undercover.

    Thats pretty much the story…  if you want to still buy the book…  knock yourself out.

    Yep, I did it, admits dirty ref

    19 08 2007

    Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy admitted yesterday to pocketing more than $30,000 by passing inside tips on games to pals in an illegal gambling ring.

    The crooked ex-official whose dirty dealings soiled the reputation of the pro hoops game pleaded guilty to charges that could put him behind bars for 25 years.

    Every time his tip was on the mark, the rogue official was paid $5,000.

    “I was in a unique position to pick the outcome of NBA games,” Donaghy, 40, told a judge in Brooklyn Federal Court. “I received cash payments for successful picks. Some of my picks included games I had been assigned to referee.”

    From the insider perch, Donaghy added, “I was aware of the manner in which officials interacted with players and called games, as well as the condition of players prior to a game.”

    Federal prosecutors alleged that Donaghy was betting on games he refereed back to 2003. But he denied that yesterday as he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to transmit bets and wagers.

    Donaghy said he used a special code to communicate his tips to his betting buddies, James Battista, 42, and Thomas Martino, 41, two ex-high school classmates also charged yesterday.

    Battista’s lawyer Jack McMahon said outside court he expects Donaghy has made a deal with prosecutors and will give testimony against his client.

    “Mr. Donaghy walked away with a nice situation for himself,” McMahon said. “He is the linchpin, and he seems to have worked his way into a nice situation. I don’t know if that is fair.”

    In addition to jail time, Donaghy is facing fines totaling half a million dollars and has agreed to cough up the $30,000 in ill-gotten gains.

    All three men were released after posting a $250,000 bond.

    Donaghy, a 13-year NBA veteran, resigned July 9 after news surfaced that he was at the center of an FBI probe. The betting scheme was uncovered during an investigation into the Gambino crime family in Brooklyn, but none of the defendants has mob ties.

    His lawyer said yesterday a gambling addiction led to his involvement.

    “He’s had a severe gambling problem for awhile that went untreated,” said lawyer John Lauro.

    Donaghy, who lives in Florida, also told Judge Carol Bagley Amon he was taking drugs for depression and anxiety.

    “He expresses a great deal of remorse and concern about the pain that he’s caused his family, his friends and his co-workers,” Lauro said.

    It was unclear yesterday whether others are involved in the gambling scandal, but U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said the investigation is continuing.

    NBA commissioner David Stern said the league was still reviewing its officiating program.

    Lamell McMorris, a spokesman for the National Basketball Referees Association, the union representing game officials, said: “We recognize that a cloud has descended upon all referees. But we are committed to showing the public that this was an isolated event and that NBA officiating is conducted at the highest levels of honesty, integrity and fairness.”


    Arizona officials want information

    16 08 2007

    By Michael Kiefer, The Arizona Republic
    PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas on Wednesday sent letters to NBA Commissioner David Stern and to the head of the FBI in Washington, D.C., asking that his office be given all information about Tim Donaghy’s handling of the two Phoenix Suns playoff games.
    Thomas wants to know whether Donaghy gambled on the games, provided inside information to gamblers or helped determine the outcome.

    “Specifically it has been reported that Mr. Donaghy refereed playoff series games between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers on April 29, 2007, and the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs on May 12, 2007,” Thomas wrote.

    “If Mr. Donaghy purposely failed to officiate the games properly and his conduct resulted in changing the outcome of games, such conduct might have violated various Arizona criminal statutes and could be the subject of criminal prosecution.”

    Thomas did not comment Wednesday, but Special Assistant County Attorney Barnett Lotstein said Arizona’s “long-arm statute” allows the county to prosecute. “If any element of the crime happened in our county, we have jurisdiction,” Lotstein said.

    Among the possible felony charges are fraudulent schemes and artifices, which carries a possible prison term of three to 10 years; and bribery of participants in professional or amateur games, which carries a possible prison term of one to 3¾ years.

    Bucher: NBA refs cry foul

    14 08 2007

    Chances are you’ve heard that an NBA referee recently resigned, sending a wave of uncertainty rippling through the league and leaving everyone to wonder what the commissioner will do to resuscitate faith in his officials.

    Chances are, you’re thinking of the wrong ref.

    While allegations that Tim Donaghy conspired to fix the NBA games he was officiating rocked the league’s foundation, it was the resignation of Bernie Fryer immediately after he worked Game 3 of the NBA Finals that was the summer’s first bombshell.

    Fryer, a 28-year ref regarded as one of the league’s best, is hanging up his whistle because he can no longer stomach the league’s current system of managing its officials. And his disaffection is shared by as many as nine other topflight veterans — about one-sixth of the corps — who also have talked about stepping down in protest. “It’s so bad,” says one, “guys buy lottery tickets everywhere they go. If they win, they’re just going to leave their shirt hanging in the locker.”

    In short, the system is neither respected by veteran officials nor, it now appears, capable of weeding out miscreants such as Donaghy.

    If referees were losing their taste for the job before, when amateur Oliver Stones found grist for their conspiracy mills despite having not a whiff of hard evidence, imagine how much less palatable it will be if proof surfaces that of one of their own was blowing his whistle to affect outcomes. Many of them now expect arenas to be filled with taunters waving dollar bills and shouting Tony Soprano references after each controversial call.

    Most refs actually agree that Donaghy was, as David Stern called him, “a rogue, isolated criminal.” But unlike the commissioner — who only recently submitted his referees to the kind of background checks NFL officials have gone through for years — they aren’t just hopeful that Donaghy acted alone. They say it’s too difficult to change the outcome as part of a three-man crew. In fact, some have gone back and reviewed tapes of games they officiated with Donaghy and were unable to find any evidence that he attempted to manipulate a game. They’re also convinced that Donaghy didn’t do this as a way to get back at the league.

    Envisioning winning the lottery and abruptly leaving a game a whistle short right before tip-off, however, reflects how some refs would be willing to act out at the league’s expense. The refs’ dreams of doing something else seems odd, since from the outside, it looks as if they’ve already hit the jackpot. They’re at the top of their profession, enjoying a solid six-figure income with all the perks that come with working on an international stage. What can compare with presiding over a roundball version of Cirque du Soleil, instilled with the power, with only a quick exhale, to bring the entire escapade to a screeching halt?

    For good measure, throw in the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you can confidently nail in a split second what the rest of the world often needs seven different camera angles and slow-motion replay to see. Sure, you have to be able to slough off the wisecracks from the cheap seats and the intimidating glares from men twice your size, but all in all, why would anyone quit this one-of-a-kind opportunity even one second earlier than necessary?

    Problem is, the job is not what it seems. Officials say that over the previous two seasons, their decisions have been second-guessed by the league more than ever before and, all too often, erroneously. They are convinced that public or team perception of a call will ultimately dictate whether the league finds it correct. Several refs say they’ve been given a thumbs-up on a performance only to be harangued, even reprimanded, by the same people several days later after they’ve had a chance to view the slo-mo replay. “With every whistle, guys think, Will the tape justify the call?” says one former ref. “Guys aren’t being backed up. It’s all about PR now.”

    For the league, the most humiliating aspect of the Donaghy revelation is that its executive VP of operations, Stu Jackson, and director of officials, Ronnie Nunn (both of whom, along with Stern, refused repeated attempts seeking comment), have over the past few seasons taken extreme measures to discount the notion among coaches, players and fans that stars are treated differently or that maverick refs brandish their own brand of justice. An observer at every game files a play-by-play review after watching the action live and again on tape, and refs are then given a detailed critique of every call. Playoff crews actually aren’t allowed to leave their locker room until a league office supervisor gives them the all clear.

    Jackson and Nunn, sources say, have complained to Stern that if their measures haven’t improved the league’s officiating, it’s only because the league’s old dogs won’t learn new tricks. According to the refs themselves, maybe it’s because they don’t trust the teachers. While Nunn was considered a competent official during his 19 years, he certainly wasn’t respected enough by his former colleagues to be viewed now as an authority or the ideal for how the job should be done.

    His weekly show on NBA TV, in which the rank and file see him pointing out missed calls and then correcting them for the viewing public, hasn’t exactly improved his standing. Jackson’s undistinguished record at every other position he’s held — Knicks coach, Grizzlies coach and GM — has him forever fighting to win the respect of his charges, some of whom dealt with him in his previous capacities.

    Jackson and Nunn have said that they are trying to develop a corps of interchangeable whistle-blowers, each one calling every minute of every game the exact same way. Three seconds in the lane is a violation, be it in the first minute of the second quarter or the last 30 seconds of overtime. Same with a hand check or a moving screen. The league strives for conformity by creating statistical averages and tracking its officials’ adherence to them. Refs say they now receive calls from Jackson informing them that they haven’t whistled a particular infraction for several games and need to pick up the slack. And that makes them feel like little more than traffic cops filling ticket quotas.

    There’s no underestimating how much this whistle-by-checklist philosophy sticks in the craw of every accomplished referee, particularly in the context in which the calls are made. How, they ask, can every call be the same when no two teams, no two games, are the same? And then there is this: Officials say that if they actually adhered to the letter of the law, they’d be calling multiple infractions each trip down the court. Still, the league routinely points out inconsequential infractions and hammers its employees for not calling them.

    One unintended repercussion is the long-running success of Flopapalooza. Acting as if you’ve been mauled to get to the line has long been part of the game, but now players do it everywhere, anytime, because they realize that today’s refs are more apt to blow the whistle. Blame a better-safe-than-sorry mind-set among officials who don’t want to get blasted for not calling what could look, upon league replay, to be a legit foul. “NCI,” says one ref. “It’s short for ‘no call incorrect.’ That’s what they hit you with the hardest. You’re better off getting it wrong by blowing your whistle than by not blowing it.”

    Strict adherence to the rules — albeit not by game officials — resulted in the Suns being punished more harshly than the Spurs for the altercation instigated by San Antonio’s Robert Horry at the end of Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The league, Jackson has admitted, chose “correctness” over “fairness.” And that’s what it always does. But that kind of thinking goes against a philosophy that has been hardwired through generations into every veteran ref: Let the players decide the game. “They’ve taken the common sense out of the officials’ hands,” says a former ref.

    The pursuit of uniformity, several refs contend, is creating mediocrity, even as isolated focus on every call is creating paralysis by analysis, especially among the younger officials. And they see an irony in being asked to walk a straight line while they are being issued wildly careening directives from the league office. The 2005-06 season began with refs being told to exercise diplomacy and patience, to allow coaches and players to air their grievances as long as they weren’t too demonstrative.

    Then they were told to do a 180 a year later, when a zero-tolerance policy was handed down. (Jackson objected to the idea that it was a zero-tolerance policy.) These days, no one is quite sure where the line is or, post-Donaghy, where it will fall. Will players and coaches be permitted to vent, or will the refs be filled to the brim with Donaghy smack and not take a drop more?

    For the officials, it would appear that correcting one of the ills of last season would be a good start. Remember Tim Duncan’s sarcastic laughing fit following a foul call during a game back on April 15? Joey Crawford ejected the All-Star and followed it up with words that got the ref bounced for the remainder of the season. But multiple sources say that when Crawford asked, “Do you want to fight?” it wasn’t a challenge, it was a question, as in, “Why do you keep staring at me? Are you trying to pick a fight with me?”

    While several refs concurred that Crawford would have been better served ignoring Duncan, his harsh punishment was taken as further evidence that they now toil in a no-win situation. On one hand, Stern doesn’t want games marred by altercations or other distractions. On the other, he doesn’t believe that in the heat of battle, being “fair” is the best way to ensure that. Crawford had long been known for his short fuse, but he’s had a short fuse with everybody, star or scrub. Challenge his authority, and you’re going to pay the price.

    And his colleagues point to the fact that altercations don’t happen in games he works as proof that his approach quells disturbances rather than fomenting them. “What they did to Joey was wrong,” said one player. “It’s not that I like him, but you know what you’re going to get with him. He’s consistent. He’s fair.” Don’t shed tears for Crawford. He’s asked to return to his job next season, and Stern has indicated that he’ll let him.

    But even with Crawford and 57-year-old Blane Reichelt, whose planned return after a two-year retirement has been thrown off course by the scandal, the NBA still faces a crisis-provoking exodus of its most experienced refs. The NBDL hasn’t turned out to be the hoped-for proving ground for whistle-blowing wannabes, and the NBA has even had to resort to holding an open tryout for its new crop of officials.

    In fact, the league has found it so difficult to find suitable replacements that it has six men over 60 still humping it up and down the hardwood, including the respected Joe Forte, Jim Clark, Jack Nies and Jess Kersey. And then there are the fiftysomethings, the next wave of first-rate officials that includes Crawford, Bob Delaney and Bennett Salvatore. “Working a couple of extra years to improve your pension isn’t worth it,” says one official. Fryer, who is walking away in good health and standing, is clear evidence of that.

    The man has to be counting his blessings that he won’t be around to witness the Donaghy Effect or be subjected to the suspicions that have crept into the minds of the faithful. But there is one respect in which Donaghy’s indiscretions could serve as a benefit to the fraternity. Maybe a chastened Stern will now listen to — and trust — what his best referees have to say about how the job needs to be done.

    It’s pretty clear that if he doesn’t, traveling will be the hot new call in the NBA.

    Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.

    Referee Camp Goes On Despite Co-Founder’s Absence

    8 08 2007

    Dick Standish

    (CBS 3) SPRINGFIELD, Pa. Five NBA referees from the Delaware Valley held a mini-camp for mentally challenged students at the Don Guanella School in Springfield, Delaware County Monday.

    “Timmy Donaghy and Duke Callahan called me up and they said they wanted to give something back to the community,” said Bob Neely of the Don Guanella School.

    The camp was co-founded by Tim Donaghy in 1997. Donaghy, a former NBA ref, is now at the center of an F.B.I. gambling investigation following allegations he bet on NBA games and called fouls to impact point spreads.

    Though Donaghy was not be present at Monday’s camp session, the refs honored their commitment to make an appearance.

    “When you come to the door and you sit there and they all come up to you and hug you, they look forward to it. They bring sunshine into our lives,” said NBA Referee Steve Javie. “If you walked into a place and kids just jumped up and down and smiled at you just for you being there, you have to sit there and say, ‘wow, the world is really OK.’ You know, and all the problems just go away.

    Link to original story.