Things are about to look very different on the court. Only now, it’s the officials who are the targets. The NBA announced Thursday that they’re going to start some brand new procedures that will help improve the performance of referees (hopefully starting by removing those blindfolds that some are wearing).
The NBA is creating a group referred to as an Officiating Advisory Council who will help move the process along. The group includes former NBA players Kenny Smith and Doug Collins, General Martin E. Dempsey, former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and former referee Steve Javie.
League operations president Byron Spruell, who had spearheaded an evaluation of officials that lasted six months, feels that the improvements will help change the face of basketball.
“Our focus with these new initiatives is to build on the already-existing strengths of our officiating program and ensure maximum effectiveness of our officials,” Spruell said in the official announcement. “With an eye toward continuous improvement, these measures will put our officials in an even better position to succeed in this demanding role and reinforce the NBA’s commitment to transparency.”
One of the major conflicts going on between the league and the officials’ union has to do with the publication of Last Two Minute Reports, which focuses on the calls referees make at the end of games.
The union itself had even petitioned to put an end to the practice after the 2015-16 NBA season, however it was league commissioner Adam Silver who refused to change the practice according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
“We do (Last Two Minute Reports) to be as transparent as possible with the public in terms of how we think critical moments of the game are being officiated,” Silver said. “We’re in the second year of our Last Two Minute Reports, and I still remain strongly behind them. Now, I understand the criticism from some of the teams that, what’s the point? Why are you telling the world that this call was decided incorrectly? May have gone in our favor, may not have. Nothing can be done about it after the fact.”
Extremely familiar faces have spoken out against the reports earlier this season, including Cleveland Cavaliers super star LeBron James and Golden State Warriors’ forward Kevin Durant.
While the announcement didn’t go over further changes to that specific program, it did highlight prior alterations to the review process, which will include the addition of a ref name by each call on the official play-by-play report.
The full announcement can be read here.