Update: Lawrence has clarified the hotline will be run by the union. Presumably, the union will relay concerns to the league.
Former NBA commissioner David Stern ruled with an iron fist. Any public criticism of officiating – by players, coaches, executives or owners – resulted in a swift fine.
Those fines still exist, but Adam Silver has ushered in an era of accountability for referees. The league seemingly has better hiring practices, and Last Two Minute Reports publicly assesses officiating late in close games.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, players will get a larger voice on refereeing.
Players will be able to critique the work of game referees, as never before. In the past, they were allowed to submit one report annually — but never were allowed to mention the offending refs by name. That was the way Stern wanted it handled, and it wasn’t subject to collective bargaining; the players had to accept the commissioner’s edict, and they never felt like they had any clout in this area. Starting with the new CBA, however, the reports will be submitted with the names of the refs and with greater frequency, coming once a month.
Additionally, the players for the first time will have a hotline to call in to critique the work of refs in their games. They’ll be able to report not just on where they think the official botched a call, but also if they found a ref to be out of line, verbally, with how they handled blow-ups. Basically, they can complain like never before. The hotline is a response to the league allowing the new monthly reviews so that players can report something they thought was handled incorrectly while it’s still fresh in their minds.
This seems like a good step.
Referees too often have tendencies for specific players, and players should have an outlet to express concern. So should coaches.
Then, the league can review with a specific concern in mind. When appropriate, that can be communicated to referees, who will ideally improve based on the feedback.
Officials have immense power. Left unchecked, that leads to missed calls and a bad product. This is a small, reasonable check.