View Full Version : Haywoode Workman looking for a return to the NBA

Slick Pinkham
07-17-2007, 10:39 AM
as a referee!


Former Pacers Guard Has NBA In His Sights Again

By TODD JOHNSON The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jul 17, 2007

TAMPA - He played professionally for eight seasons in the NBA and overseas from 1989 to 2000, but Haywoode Workman's days on the court aren't finished.

When he stopped playing, he knew coaching or television broadcasting wouldn't be his next career move. So he decided to pursue something only two former players have done in the NBA's 61-year history - return to the game as a referee.

"Look at all the guys who played in the NBA that have now become coaches or GMs," said Workman, whose steady guard play and defense were vital to the success of the Indiana Pacers in the early to mid-'90s. "All the years the league has been around and you're telling me two guys [have become officials]?"

A business venture in 2001 brought him to Tampa, where he also had in-laws who had settled in the area. A few years later, Workman, 41, took control of the Tampa Bay Pro-Am league when its commissioner, Dell Holmes, died. Unlike most summer basketball, the Pro-Am league operates exclusively under NBA rules. Workman said he wants the players in the league, which is now known as just "Bay Pro-Am," to consider officiating as a quality career choice.

"I'm trying to tell these guys out here who might be wondering what to do next with their life … why not be a ref? I tell them, 'You know how to play, you know what to look for.' Taking some of these players and making them referees is definitely my purpose [for this league]."

Workman's last playing stop was in 2001 in Israel, where he played point guard for Hapoel Jerusalem's basketball club. He moved to Tampa and began refereeing high school basketball in Pasco and Hillsborough counties for a few years, before being picked up to referee by the Continental Basketball Association. By 2004, the National Basketball Developmental League (D-League) called and Workman was traveling across the country to do games. He said he saw the Pro-Am league as a way to pay his dues.

"I had to start from scratch and that's just the way it was," said Workman, who played in Pro-Am leagues when he was a player. "But this is the best competition in the area. Everybody wants to gain a [reputation] whether they're from one part of town, or college or in the NBA."

Eli Roe officiated Pro-Am games for nine years and was called to the NBA two years ago. He started officiating when he was a student at Troy State University in the early '90s. He said the Pro-Am games force refs to get up and down the floor.

"We've had some really chaotic games so far this season, games that have gone right down to the wire," said Roe, 33, who resides in Orlando. "[Haywoode] has this league well organized. This league had folded up and he stepped in and revived it. Now we have competitive basketball again. I go to the NBA and I'm just more prepared after doing these games."

Workman said he has high hopes to "get that call" from the NBA to ref this summer. Cecil Watkins, president and CEO of the National Pro-Am, said Workman is "right at the tip."

"He's a top prospect," said Watkins, who started the Pro-Am leagues 27 years ago. "Thirty-eight of [the NBA referees] got their start doing Pro-Am leagues. It's because of our success that we are so well known."

It would be an understatement to say Workman and his fellow officials take each game seriously. During halftime and after each game's final buzzer, the crew convenes to discuss certain calls and provide each other with tips on what to do in certain situations.

"We're always working together," Pro-Am referee Brent Barnaky said.

Barnaky is entering his 10th year officiating basketball and now is a top Division I referee. He also has done NBA summer camps and the D-League. He shares Workman's goal to reach the NBA and said he believes working Pro-Am games will help him get there, no matter the odds.

"Say there's about 40 [guys like me] on the NBA's radar to become refs. Maybe one or two of them a year will make it," said Barnaky, who is in charge of assigning and training officials in the Pro-Am. "The pro-am game is challenging because the players are 100 times quicker than what you're used to [in college]. You have to be consistent with your judging of calls and that's hard to do."

Workman, now a self-proclaimed "Tampa native," is waiting patiently for a call from the NBA to suit up as an official. But one thing he enjoys about refereeing games is while he might be making calls on the floor, he doesn't have to take too many off of it.

"You never see me coming or going," Workman said with a slight chuckle. "I'm not running into guys [in Tampa] complaining about calls or whatever. I like that."


Former NBA players who are now NBA officials:

Bernie Fryer & Leon Wood
Played in NBA: BF 1973-1975 LW 1984-1990
Began Officiating: BF1979 LW1996

•Of the current 30 NBA head coaches, 23 are former NBA players (76.7 percent).

•Of the current 30 NBA general managers, 18 are former NBA players (60 percent).

•Of the current 59 NBA referees, two are former NBA players (3.3 percent).

Reporter Todd Johnson can be reached at (813) 259-7617 or rtjohnson@tampatrib.com.

07-17-2007, 10:52 AM
Note to the Pacers marketing department: Get Heywood to ref your games and I'll actually come to the game. Hope you don't mind I'll be cheering for the ref.

07-17-2007, 10:52 AM
Always was a big fan of Haywoode. He always seemed to understand the game well.

Hope he makes it.

07-18-2007, 06:39 PM
Note to the Pacers marketing department: Get Heywood to ref your games and I'll actually come to the game. Hope you don't mind I'll be cheering for the ref.
2nd note - start selling ref jersey's with Workman's ref number on them, maybe modify it to have his name on the back even though the official ones do not. Seriously.

Maybe I'll have to just make one. :)

BTW, it's always been my opinion that the Jax for Rose deal was done based on the comfort of having Woody as the main PG in waiting. When he got injured it wrecked that situation (along with Brown's vendetta against Rose) and required the return of Jax.

07-18-2007, 06:42 PM
Oh, I completely agree, but Seth, remember, that's the year we don't talk about.


07-18-2007, 08:27 PM
Woodie was a real credit to the Pacers. I hope he gets it all!

07-19-2007, 10:48 AM
I remember reading an article on Pacers.com come about a year or two ago about Working trying to become a ref. I only got to see him play 1 yr for the Pacers, but I thought even then that he was a quality guy. I'd often wondered what happened to him after he was traded/released; didn't know he went and played overseas. Good to know he landed on his feet.

I hope he's able to reach his new goal of becoming an NBA ref very soon. There's alot to be said of having men of good character out there on the floor beside the players. (What am I saying!?! Sometimes, the refs are the only people on the floor of good character. :p )Maybe his years in the NBA will garner him some respect as an NBA ref from a "been there, pulled that trick, too...caught 'cha!" perspective. :laugh:

Anyway, I wish him well.

07-21-2007, 11:51 AM
Oh, I completely agree, but Seth, remember, that's the year we don't talk about.

Honestly I didn't know which one that was. It's mentioned but obviously without direct reference, so I hadn't figured it out.

Can I amend game 5 of the 96 playoffs vs ATL onto that season then? It's only a few months and it's a game I'd really, really like to forget.

07-21-2007, 12:04 PM
Wouldn't we all.

07-21-2007, 12:08 PM
Rumor has it there is going to be an opening.

07-21-2007, 01:10 PM
Rumor has it there is going to be an opening.Not sure I would want to apply for that spot. Next year will be very tough for those guys. Can you imagine making a tough call late in a game against the home team. OUCH .... your gonna need alligator skin.

I always liked Woody he played hard and with compassion. I hope he succeeds at everything he does.