Seventy-two years of experience has left the NBA refereeing ranks. To be replaced by five younger refs called up from the D-League.
That can be good or bad, depending on your worldview of referees. In reality, it probably makes little different.
The New York Times has the details. Joe DeRosa, Joe Forte, Sean Corbin and Phil Robinson are gone.
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. (Michael Henderson, who was also 6-8, worked for the league from 2001 to 2005.)
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.
Lest you think it’s going to be all young whippersnappers who can keep up with the speed of the game, Dick Bavetta will be back. He’ll turn 71 this season.
Dick Bavetta is one of the biggest names in NBA officiating. That’s in part because of a race/kiss that Bavetta shared with one Charles Barkley at the 2007 All-Star Game, but also because at 70 years young, Bavetta is something of a marvel among the refereeing ranks. Getting up and down the court to call an NBA game isn’t quite running a marathon, but the fact that Bavetta continues to work games at his advanced age is pretty remarkable nonetheless.
There’s just one thing: Bavetta isn’t calling games right now, and he won’t be until next season. From Howard Beck of the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog:
Although the league has not announced it, people who have been told
of the schedule say that the 70-year-old Bavetta will not work any of
the games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
Some of Bavetta’s peers believe that the league is trying to nudge
him into retirement. (The referees are prohibited by league rules from
speaking on the record.) No one expects Bavetta will walk away, given
his headstrong nature, his enduring enthusiasm and his generous base
salary, which is believed to be $300,000 to $400,000 a year.
…Bavetta has worked 2,434 games, the most in N.B.A. history, and has
never missed an assignment since he joined the league in 1975. He has
worked in 27 finals games, and in every championship series from 1990
That streak ended last year — a subtle indication that Bavetta was
no longer considered among the elite referees. Any ambiguity was erased
this spring, when he was not assigned to the conference finals, ending
a 20-year streak. Bavetta had worked in every conference finals round
The show must go on, but it’s certainly a bit odd to see everything go down without Bavetta present for a game or two.