Adam Silver’s Remarks On How The NBA Punishes Bad Referees Leaves Plenty To Be Desired

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Making a living as an NBA referee is one of the more thankless jobs in sports thanks to the many fans who expect the officials who patrol the hardwood to make the right call every single time and give them hell whenever they make a questionable one that goes against their team.

It is hard to feel too bad for refs who draw the ire of spectators, players, and coaches when you consider how much money they make, and that fairly hefty compensation also makes it difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt when they do manage to blow a crucial call.

That’s unfortunately happened on more than a few occasions this season—a reality that Lakers fans are very aware of based on how frequently The Ref Show has taken center stage during the team’s games.

In January, LeBron James basically begged the NBA for a fine when he implied officials had a vendetta against Los Angeles. It’s hard to imagine that’s actually the case, but the referees didn’t do themselves any favors when they absolutely butchered the ending of a showdown between the Lakers and the Celtics before issuing a fairly dramatic statement.

The NBA has also caught plenty of heat for the perceived lack of accountability underperforming officials face, as they have no obligation to speak with the media and (unlike the players and coaches who criticize them) don’t face any financial punishments for a job done poorly.

On Friday, commissioner Adam Silver addressed some of those complaints when he reminded critics the NBA technically has a system in place to discipline refs who failed to live up to expectations, as ESPN reports he had this to say about the matter:

“We don’t publicize discipline for officials. We don’t think that will be appropriate.

But their assignments are affected by the quality of their calls, whether or not they progress into the playoffs and then round by round is impacted by the accuracy of their calls and their demeanor on the floor.

So there is a system for overseeing and making those judgements about officials. But more to your earlier point about getting the calls right, that’s again not a new issue.”

This isn’t exactly a new development, but by acknowledging that status quo, Silver is essentially admitting the current approach hasn’t done much to improve the quality of officiating in the regular season.

Sure, it’s nice to know the NBA is sending its best refs to the playoffs, but that doesn’t do much to assuage the teams who might miss out on the postseason because of the ones who failed to make the cut.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.