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Mark Cuban predicted the NBA's refereeing problem a year ago


Fans witnessed another abomination of a game between the Celtics and Pelicans after the game went into overtime which lasted, by my rough estimate, as long as the pandemic lockdown. We literally had 5-minute breaks for reviews of calls that shouldn't have happened. Yet again, the referees were overwhelmed, and it resulted in a horrible product on the court.

“Look, it’s gotten worse. That’s why I tweeted. I’ve gone a year and a half, or more, without commenting on the officials, and it’s just gotten progressively worse.”

Mark Cuban, Dallas News

This was Mark Cuban exactly a year ago, on February 23, 2020, and things obviously only got worse. Simmons and Russillo spent a lot of time on the latest BS Podcast talking about the NBA ignoring the issues around refereeing and how it's damaging the product on the court. But in his interview a year ago, Cuban was more direct - he called out names and explained the source of the problem.

“It goes back like I just tweeted, you’ve got Ronnie Nunn, who . . . only hired people from the Ohio Valley Conference or wherever his buddies worked at. Including a former Rucker League ref who lasted only a year. And so we’re paying the price that his hiring and training was so bad that we don’t have any good refs.

And so then we went to Don Vaden, who was here two or three years. Then you went to Bob Delaney, who wanted you to go take these vitamins and go to these brain doctors and kind of forced the refs to try to do that [expletive], so we have lots of former police officers. And so out of a million refs around the world, we have this incestuous group of refs that we’ve hired, literally brothers, spouses. I don’t know which came first, the hiring or the spousing. But same high school, same cities, and then when it comes to training we sign Joey and Bennett and Wunderlich, all these guys who were former refs and go around and, according to refs I’ve talked to, spent minimal time doing video training with them.”

Mark Cuban, Dallas News

Did you ever wonder how do people climb the ranks and become a ref in the NBA? Cuban's making the point it's pure nepotism. Ronnie Nunn hired people from his neck of the woods, Bob Delaney was a former cop, so a lot of cops started refereeing the games, etc. But bringing people in you know isn't the problem itself. If you bring in your crew, you're not as likely to assess them objectively and make them pass all the benchmarks. This is what Cuban's been warning the league for years. The refs that come in are not given enough time and support to get ready for officiating NBA games.

“Because we’ve had such poor training, when some of the older refs retired, the ones that come and take their place are not ready. And why are they not ready? Because we had one guy running all the G-League training, George Tolliver, I think that’s who it is. One guy running all the G-League training and very little support.”

Mark Cuban, Dallas News

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Cuban said the league has repeatedly told him they will work on referee training courses, but no improvement is actually happening. Why? According to Cuban, the people who are put in charge of developing the future generation of referees don't want to put in the work. See if you recognize some of the names.

“Yet, instead of having people who know how to train and develop refs, that are professional trainers, that learn from refs on mechanics and everything of what they want, we get Joey Crawford, who gets dressed up. Bennett Savatore, who gets dressed up.”

Mark Cuban, Dallas News

It's not like the NBA always had this problem. Cuban pointed out that when Darrell Garretson was training young refs, things weren't as bad as they are now. But since then, Cuban says it's been Ronnie Nunn, Don Vaden, Bob Delaney and now Monty McCutchen repeating the same mistakes - and it shows on the court.

“Out of the 70 refs, give or take, I think I counted 17 that have five years or less experience. That’s a lot. And you can’t expect new refs to be any good. And that’s because we do such a horrific job of training in the G-League. Not a poor job. Not a marginal job. We apply literally no resources. The Joey Crawfords and Bennett Salvatores, I’m so glad I can call those guys out, because they’re awful at their jobs.”

Mark Cuban, Dallas News

The latest outburst of fans on social media confirms Cuban's predicions. The NBA has a refereeing problem that ruins the product on the court. The 4th quarter, supposedly the culmination of a game, has turned into a boring saga more often than not.

I want to be clear here, the refs are doing the best they can to referee withing the paramenters given to them and in a league where James Hardens' and Trae Young's of the world start a play with flopping in mind. It's not an easy kjob to do.

The first step in fixing a problem is admiting you have a problem. We're still waiting on the NBA to make that step.

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