NBA unveils new replay center, will have it ready on opening night

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It’s one of the things that drags out games, particularly the last two minutes of NBA games: The referees stroll over to the scorers table, flip around a monitor, put on headsets and start asking for replays of who the ball went out of bounds off, or if a shooter’s foot was on the three point line or not, or whatever is in question.

This season things should be faster — check out the NBA’s new Replay Center, which it unveiled on Thursday.

It will be fully operational for opening night Oct. 28. Looking like a NASA launch center, the room has 20 replay stations and 94 television monitors, plus the NBA tells us it is “directly connected to all 29 NBA arenas, streamlining the process of instant replay video review.”

Here’s why this is better than the old system: By the time the referees stroll over and flip the monitor around, the fine folks working the replay center will already have cued up multiple camera angles of the play in question, and can show those angles simultaneously on the screen (a replay official in the center is dedicated to each game). The replay official also can zoom in as needed on a part of the video. The in-arena referee will more quickly see the best angle, make the call and everything moves on.

However, the head referee still make the decision.

“The new state-of-the-art NBA Replay Center will not only help our officials get more calls correct by giving them enhanced views of the action, but will also help them do their jobs in a more expeditious manner,” Rod Thorn, NBA President, Basketball Operations, said in a released statement.

You’re still going to disagree with calls… yes, we’re looking at you, Doc Rivers. The league is going to try to be more transparent about those calls.

As part of this replay center, the league will have a replay video archive online (at NBA.com/replay). That will have the video of the incident and a link to the explanation of the rule. This is going to be a searchable database. Their goal is to have these videos up quickly and tweet out the results of controversial calls.

It’s going to have bugs, we’re all still going to disagree with calls, but this is another step in the right direction. The NBA under Adam Silver has been much more transparent about officiating — such as publicly saying when an official made a mistake — and that’s what we need. As long as the games are officiated by humans there will be mistakes.

Of course, this new replay center brings us that much closer to Skynet, and with that there will be no need for human officials.