Blowing the whistle on needless ref show
More young officials means more game-changing overreaction
The relationship between NBA players and game officials is unlike any other in the big four North American professional sports leagues.
There is more interaction, like quick conversations. There are relationships that have been built — good and bad — over long careers on both sides, and the give-and-take can be a crucial part of the game.
Raptors fans saw it firsthand this week when Kyle Lowry was ejected in rapier-like fashion by a young official, J.B. DeRosa, who hasn’t quite mastered the delicate balance needed to calm down intense moments of anger and frustration.
He should have walked away and left Lowry to vent without paying close attention, a point Raptors coach Dwane Casey made quickly after the game.
Lowry also has to share some of the blame, because no one else knows precisely what he said or how he said it, but he kept going a few seconds too long. There was enough time between the first and second technical foul for him to realize what kind of trouble he was in, and the consequences he’d face if he kept it up.
What was missing was that balance between arguments — those spur-ofthe-moment outbursts — and someone, usually the official, taking the higher road.
“The veteran official calls a tech (and) walks away, because he understands the moment, the frustration level,” Casey said.
The trouble is, the number of truly veteran officials is dwindling (of the 64 regular refs, only 20 of them have 20 or more years of service, and 28 have yet to officiate for 10 years) and because there is so much interaction between player and ref, it takes time — a lot of time — to gain the necessary experience to defuse a situation.
“Back in the old days, officials wouldn’t even acknowledge you. They wouldn’t even talk to you unless they were trying to put you in your place,” Casey said. “Now they do a good job of communicating when they need to. There are certain situations (where) I think they should walk away and understand what the level of frustration in the moment — in the game — is and handle it. That’s where a veteran official has a better feel.” Some day they’ll grow into the job. “We’ve got some good young officials that need experience, like players, like coaches,” Casey said. “And they’re growing. They’re going to make mistakes. We understand that.
“We have a good group of veteran officials that are good leaders, good mentors, that have to lead in those situations.”
Ref J.B. DeRosa hit Raptor Kyle Lowry with a pair of technicals in Sunday’s game against the Wizards — an automatic ejection.