Update: Referees union:
It’s hard to see how helpful this meeting could have been, even if the size was by design. Andre Iguodala cares about his and the Warriors’ interests. Spencer Dinwiddie cares about his and the Nets’ interests. They’re not ideally positioned to convey concerns of players on other teams, though Iguodala’s place in the players union gives him some mass perspective.
The actual result sound underwhelming.
Three referees attended the meeting: Marc Davis, Jason Phillips and Brian Forte, two people briefed on the meeting told B/R. Among the other key participants were Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, and Lee Seham, general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association, the people said.
Only two players attended, and neither one was a current All-Star: Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala, an NBPA vice president, and Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, the All-Star Skills Challenge winner, the people briefed on the meeting told B/R.
Only two players?
All-Stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan and Draymond Green have notably had problems with officials this season. This was a chance to address their concerns. Other players could have also gone to Los Angeles for the meeting.
However, All-Star Weekend is incredibly busy for All-Stars with sponsor events, media sessions and the actual game and contests. Other players relish the break and rare opportunity for a vacation. This meeting wasn’t necessarily well-timed, though it’s also possible there weren’t better options until after the season.
It’s easy to blame players for not showing up. It’s just not that simple.
Someone from the union probably had to be there, and I bet Iguodala was designated. I’m also not surprised Dinwiddie – nicknamed “The Mayor” and trying to carve out a more prominent place in the NBA – got involved. Hopefully, Iguodala can use his union post to convey diffusing information to other players.
But I wouldn’t count on improved player-referee relations this season. Too many players are convinced referees treat their team unfairly. (If they all think that, it can’t be true.) And too many referees are insensitive to the fact that players are in the midst of high-pressure competition during their interactions.
More meetings between players and referees could help and should happen. A better time would be next preseason, when referees could meet with teams as they travel around the country. That’d allow a far larger number of players to listen and be heard.
By the way, it’s fine there were only three referees at the meeting. Unlike players, who have their competing agendas, referees are essentially on the same team. A few officials can represent the whole group.