Ref Steve Javie oddly absent from the playoffs

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Officiating in the NBA is an impossible task, and referees who are able to earn respect are generally seen in one of two ways:

  • Opportunists whose mediocrity is rewarded by how many referees fail to do the impossible.
  •  Legitimately good at what they do, even if there’s a certain futility to it.

For Steve Javie, who is among the most respected referees in the league, the latter is far more appropriate. Yet a quick look into the playoff box scores reveals a shocking lack of Javie. It’s one thing for a younger official to be cycled out of the refereeing rotation come playoff time, but it’s largely assumed that come post-season, Javie will be there.

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott sleuthed out the explanation for Javie’s disappearance:

What’s the deal? How could he be benched? I dug in, just certain there must be something fascinating going on.

I was quickly directed to this notification from the NBA: “The
following officials are unavailable due to medical reasons: Steve
Javie, Violet Palmer, Joe Forte, Olandis Poole and Mark Wunderlich.”

Javie, says a league spokesperson, has been out since December 2 with a leg injury, and will not be back this season.

So apparently it’s not a new development, but just one we’ve failed to pay attention to. With so many games happening on a nightly basis during the regular season, it’s easy to understand why refereeing assignments slip through the cracks.

So riddle me this: if a renowned NBA official gets a leg injury in the middle of the regular season and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?