View Full Version : Great Rosen Article on Refs in the CBA

Los Angeles
03-04-2005, 03:01 PM
I just love this story - especially the bit about getting tossed by ref who thinks Rosen is complaining too much - turns out, it was a loudmouth fan behind the bench. Classic!

The Phil Jackson not letting the refs sleep bit is a close second.

Enjoy -->



Refs get it wrong way too much
Charley Rosen / Special to FOXSports.com

Referees are a necessary evil.

Back when Ed T. Rush was the league's director of officiating, he told me that the game videos prove that the calls made by NBA refs are correct 93 percent of the time. These videos were produced by whichever local station (or national network) that had televised the games, and were edited from the footage provided by the four or five cameras normally in use.
However, one particularly wealthy franchise normally records their home games using 12 of their own cameras. According to the enhanced angles provided by these videos, NBA refs actually blow one of every three calls.

And Rush also admitted that nobody in his office tallied or evaluated another critical aspect of officiating that had at least as much of an influence on ball games the non-calls.

No wonder that the NBA's coaches and players feel they have a license to complain whenever the whistle shrills. The sheer capriciousness of the calls, coupled with the refs' righteous arrogance, is enough to drive coaches batty.

Before the establishment of the National Basketball Developmental League, virtually every player call-up (about 40 every season) was from the Continental Basketball Association. The CBA was also used as the official training ground for future NBA refs the likes of Steve Javie, Ken Mauer, Gary Benson, Bill Springer, Jim Delaney, Monty McCutchen, Ron Garretson, Duke Callahan, Ronnie Nunn (the NBA's current director of officials), and many more. In fact, Garretson once told me this: "The CBA has only one purpose. To develop officials for the NBA."

During my own nine-year stint in the CBA, I tangled with once and future NBA refs on numerous occasions. I firmly believed that refs were cops with whistles instead of guns. That they were mere mechanics who scanned a game looking for mistakes. No surprise, then, that for each of my six seasons as a head coach (Savannah, 1986-87; Rockford, 1988-90; Oklahoma City, 1990-91; and Albany, 1991-92), I led the CBA in technical fouls.

I deserved many (if not most) of my T's. And just as certainly I was unjustly "whacked" and even "tossed" several times. Like the time I happened to be coaching the Oklahoma City Cavalry and we were getting trounced in Wichita Falls by the hometown Texans. There was a drunk sitting directly behind me, who was loudly excoriating the refs in a thick southern drawl whenever a call went against the Texans. Yet it was I who was booted midway through the second quarter by Callahan. "I've heard enough from you, Charley," Callahan shouted as he pointed offstage right. I was then illegally locked inside the visitors locker room, where I had no other outlet than to throw a few chairs and kick an innocent garbage can around the room.

But it wasn't only my own personal differences with referees that demonstrated how otherwise normal, peaceful, and knowledgeable basketball coaches could be driven to outbreaks of temporary insanity by NBA-bound referees.

Here are a few examples:

I was Phil Jackson's assistant, and roommate, with the Albany Patroons from 1983-86, and after we were convinced that we'd gotten "homered" in a game in Pensacola, neither of us could sleep. By chance we'd discovered that the two officials who had worked the game were not only registered in the same motel, but were also lodged in an adjacent room. Phil's anger was such that roughly every half-hour throughout most of the night he'd loudly bang on the common wall and scream curses at the offending refs. "If we can't sleep," was his rationale, "then they sure don't deserve to sleep either."

The Patroons finished up the 1984-85 season playing the Puerto Rico Coquis in San Juan. The home team was coached by Herb Brown, older brother of Larry, one-time head coach of the Pistons, and currently an assistant in Atlanta. The Coquis needed a win to qualify for the playoffs, and in Brown's view a series of biased calls tilted the game to the Patroons and unjustly terminated his season. Herb was so incensed that he stormed the court, grabbed the whistle-lanyard that was draped around Ken Mauer's neck, and proceeded to twist the lanyard in such a way as to prevent Mauer from breathing. None of the other coaches, or players (or the other ref), made a move to save Mauer from a horrible death. It wasn't until Mauer's face started turning blue that a security officer pulled Brown away. (Brown's penalty was to be suspended without pay for the first six games of the following season.)

And it isn't only the coaches on the short end of a score who are frequently freaked by the refs' incompetence.

George Karl was coaching the Patroons, and my Oklahoma City squad was being thoroughly demolished in the fourth quarter of a game played in Albany. As I recall, we were down by 30 points with about three minutes left in the game, when Karl nevertheless became incensed by a foul called on one of his players. Karl raced on to the court, picked up the bouncing ball, and neatly punted it high into the upper grandstand. A truly monumental feat which deserved a standing ovation, but which earned him an instantaneous banishment.

The late Bill Musselman was certainly the most successful coach in CBA history, with a total of three league championships (1985-88). One of the secrets of Musselman's impressive achievements was his ability to locate and hire (for illegally inflated wages) ex-NBA players for spot service. Like Coby Deitrick, who was around long enough to throw a terrific pass to beat the Patroons in a crucial playoff game. Or Rod Higgins, who played in only the seventh game of another playoff series against the Patroons and scored 30-plus points. But in addition to being an outstanding Xs-and-Os coach and a resourceful recruiter, Muss was also blessed with a highly developed sense of fair play.

Like the time his Tampa Bay Thrillers beat my Savannah Spirits on a last-second jumper by the late "Fast" Eddie Johnson. Despite the dramatic win on his home court, Muss was bothered by the fact that one particular ref had called three offensive fouls on my best player (Cedric Henderson) during the last few minutes of the game. Instead of celebrating the victory, Muss followed the refs to their dressing room, and began to kick and bang on the door. "You stole the game from Charley!" he kept shouting. "You stole the game!"

With one last ferocious kick, he then stormed off to deliver who-knows-what kind of postgame summation to his players.

Ladies, don't raise your sons to be cowboys or referees.

03-04-2005, 09:19 PM
Oh, dear lord, armageddon is upon us; I just agreed with Charlie Rosen. :dead:

The state of officiating isn't the top reason we're not getting season tickets anymore, but it's damn close. And, with the demise of the CBA, the NBA gets their refs from the WNBA now. And of course, the worst ref I ever saw in my 3 years of getting Fever tickets promptly got promoted to the big league. Ed Malloy. Just awful. :rollout: