NBA Appears To Have Quietly Punished Ref Who Sparked Fred VanVleet’s Profane Tirade

NBA referee Ben Taylor

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The NBA has had to deal with plenty of headaches thanks to criticisms stemming from the quality of officiating in the league, and it’s safe to say this season has been no exception.

The Ref Show has reared its ugly head on a number of notable occasions over the course of the current campaign, and the men and women at the center of those controversies have been subjected to plenty of blowback from fans, coaches, and players.

However, I’m not sure if any athlete in the history of sports has gone out of their way to earn the fine that tends to come with publically criticizing the officials quite like Fred VanVleet, who treated us to a rant for the ages earlier this month.

The Raptors guard did not hold back while sharing his disgust following Toronto’s 108-100 loss to the Clippers on March 8th, as he stated “I thought Ben Taylor was f***ing terrible tonight” in a profanity-laced tirade where he tore into the ref who hit him with a technical foul in the second half of the contest.

VanVleet got his money’s worth with the comments that led to him being hit with a $30,000 fine, and while the NBA didn’t officially discipline Taylor, it does appear he’s been subjected to some internal retribution based on what’s unfolded since that somewhat fateful night.

In February, commissioner Adam Silver tried to address some of the blowback to subpar officiating when he reminded fans the league has a system in place to “punish” refs who fail to live up to expectations (although you could argue it really just rewards the best ones by allowing them to earn the extra checks that come with working playoff games).

On Tuesday, Tom Haberstroh of the Basketball Illuminati podcast offered some compelling insight into Taylor’s current situation during a conversation with JD Bunkis where he noted the NBA has apparently reduced his workload a bit.

Here’s what he had to say:

“Since that Fred VanVleet rant, the NBA has actually demoted Ben Taylor in his assignments.

So, in the last five games, Ben Taylor has only been the crew chief once. He’s been the Referee 2 four times since that rant, which is a real abnormality with Ben Taylor.

If you look at his previous 52 games this season, Ben Taylor was the crew chief in 41 of those games—basically four out of five games he was the crew chief. But in the last five games since that rant, the NBA said, ‘You know what, you’re gonna be the Referee 2 in this one….’

To put that in perspective, Ben Taylor hadn’t been a Referee 2 in back-to-back games all season. After Fred VanVleet, it’s happened twice.

I don’t know if that’s intentional or whether that’s just luck of the draw, but certainly the NBA has taken a different tact when it comes to Ben Taylor’s assignments—whether that’s punishment, or that’s just ‘Hey, you need to chill out a little bit’.”

That’s probably a trend most fans can get behind.

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.