At halftime of Game 2 in the Celtics/Magic series, referee Joe DeRosa walked over to the scorer’s table to pick up the crew’s jackets, found a heckler waiting for him there and at one point tossed the guy the ball.
Turns out, that’s enough to get you suspended.
DeRosa has been suspended from the next game he was to work, it was announced by Ron Johnson, NBA Senior Vice President, Referee Operations.
The NBA investigated the situation, and we don’t know what was said. What we do know is that, unlike was reported before, the heckler was not ejected from the arena by DeRosa. Not really sure that tossing a ball to a fan should earn a suspension, but that’s the call.
Bottom line is the league doesn’t want its referees reacting to hecklers under any circumstances. Not even Jack Nicholson — YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.
As if the referees weren’t in enough trouble for game two of the Celtics/Magic series — the terrible charging call on JJ Redick when the game was in doubt, or the nine straight calls against the Celtics earlier in the fourth quarter — there comes this, from the Associated Press:
(Joe) DeRosa was walking to the scorer’s table to get the warm-up jackets for his crew, a common practice before the trio of referees leave the floor at intermission. A fan behind the table approached DeRosa, gesturing with his arms and appearing to be shouting at the veteran official.
DeRosa flipped the game ball to the fan, who tossed it back. DeRosa then motioned for the man to be ejected by security.
This is all being investigated by the league. However, we climb all over players when they can’t rise above taunts and words — of fans or other players — and we need to expect at least that much from the referees. It’s a hard job, a thankless one. But to quote the Super Chicken theme song — you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.
Got to be bigger than this, refs. Rise above.