NEW YORK -- Ronnie Nunn, in his first year as the NBA’s Director of Officials, is a veteran of 19 NBA seasons. During his officiating career, Nunn officiated 1,134 regular season, 73 playoff and four NBA Finals games, as well as the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany, the NBA Japan Summer Charity Games in 1996 and the 2000 Mexico Challenge. He has also been involved in the WNBA’s mentor program and is an NBA instructor in the summer. Nunn recently spoke with NBA News about his new job and officiating in the NBA.

Q: Can you briefly discuss the oversight system in place for officiating.
Nunn:
"I think the most profound thing we've done is have 29 standard observers be at every game and they have a myriad of things to fill out concerning the game and there are two parts to fill out.

Mike Bibby and Ronnie Nunn discuss one of the game's finer points last season.
Rocky Widner
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"One is to be at the game on site where you can pick up things, nuances during the game that you can't pick up on television. Maybe a certain call created a sense that there was controversy and you could hear from the stands and that might affect how a coach acts on the bench, and you can pick up stuff like that when you are on site. Plus, the calls. You are noting all the calls that officials are making and the positions that they are in.

"The good news to that whole program is that when it is done, the standard observer goes back and reviews game video of that game. He gets a double taste of a drilled down affect of evaluating how the game was from how he observed it. Upon doing that, he sends the report in and that report is funneled to (Director of Basketball Operations/Officiating Performance Analysis) Paul Brazeau and Paul creates a data bank for the officials, each one specifically.

"Every place the official goes, the standard observer does similarly, and after six weeks or so we begin to get a profile on the official from a data standpoint. Does he have most calls in the post area? Does he have most calls as a trail official? Does he have most as a slot? Is he more effective in the lead? Does he need help in these areas? Then we sort of filter out a wide-brush profile of how an official is doing, so we can develop him. That's one of the key things being done.

"I have four people called group supervisors that take on 15 officials of the 59 that we have. They have a more hands-on, in-touch relationship with the officials based on training and development of them. They pick out from the standard observer data material what things seem to pop up. Not only do they follow the officials, they also oversee the standard observer's assessment of games. Everyone has someone watching him. Then I come into the picture and I have an overview from the standard observers and I have an overview from my group supervisors. I also get information from (Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations) Stu Jackson or (Vice President, Scheduling and Game Operations) Matt Winick or Paul Brazeau concerning all the things involved in officiating on a day-to-day basis. They are also guys who are vigilant in games."

Q: How has it evolved since you were a rookie official?
Nunn:
"The accountability is greatly improved. There was a sense of accountability when I first started. Darrell Garretson was a guy who drilled into you to get plays right. We did not have the tools that we have today. If we had a difficult game, we'd ask for a video, go to a hotel, ask for a VCR. Many hotels would work with us, but a lot of VCR shops closed at 10 p.m. So you tried to see what you did wrong, what you sensed you may have done wrong. Darrell would send us a tape, it might get there in two days and we'd look at those plays two days after.

"Today, it's immediate. I have a Blackberry. The officials have a disk that's connected with their laptop. I can, before halftime, shoot an e-mail and have the thing buzzing in the locker room, asking them to take a look at a specific play. Today, the immediate information avenue is profound for us."

Q: How would you respond to fans who argue about make-up calls or preferential treatment for superstars?
Nunn:
"I think there is a base for that thinking because years ago -- and this is prior to my joining the staff in 1984 -- things lingered. I think prior to '84 there was always the sense of a make-up call and sometimes it frankly was. If there was a poor call by an official, the other official would find, let's say, a more by-the-book walk and he'd call it, which was probably valid but usually wasn't called because it didn't look that bad. It seemed that make-up calls went on to try to apply balance and equity.

"I think the idea of preferential treatment has always been around because once a player is profound in basketball, as soon as you have a profound player, that player can impact the team and the league. Once that happens, everybody else who doesn't have a player like that is very focused on all the things they think that player gets away with. I think that's always been around. The reason that it looks preferential is that great players create situations that force you to have to blow the whistle for them because they maneuver very well; they fool their defenders very well; they do whatever they do very well.

"I can tell you today that there is no such thing as a make-up call. Here's an expample: On one end you have a block-charge collision that nobody gets. All of sudden on the other end, you have a legitimate hand-check and it's called. So the fans say that you've got chaos on one end and then you call a little hand-check. Well, the fact is we used to have chaos and then the next moment we had chaos, we'd let that go also to show balance. But you can't referee that way. You get every play you can. If you mess up a play, there is no make-up. You go along with the standard, which is if the next play is a valid foul, that's what you blow. You take each play, the value of it, and you whistle it or you don't."

Q: Sometimes, a game seems to be called tighter at certain points than at other times.
Nunn:
"The momentum of the game changes. The momentum can change when subs come in. We call them tempo changers. One sub can create a completely different style of play for the team. You can have two guards, a post man and two forwards and all of sudden a guy comes in who can play a two or three, and all of sudden, the team is a running team. Maybe on defense, they pick up earlier or they press a little bit. Immediately, those things occur and we have to adjust and anticipate. The other thing is we want aggressive play, but we do not want rough play. We are trying to have people play according to the guidelines at every position on the floor.

Q: Talk about everything that goes into refereeing a game.
Nunn:
"The issues with referees start the moment you travel to the game. In a way, refs are almost like players. You want to catch your flights on time, arrive in the city on time. The greatest thing about traveling is traveling on a day off, it's much more comfortable. The time that is toughest is when you have a back-to-back game and a late-night finish. Many times you'll have to look at some plays that are pertinent to that game that the office may want to hear about. Let's say it's a game that was really tough, it would probably behoove that crew to gather that night and get those plays down. That's the toughest night. You shut it down at maybe 1:30-2, you're up maybe at 6 because you have to be on the first flight -- that's the toughest time.

"Those times, we'll try to have a lunch meeting to prep for that evening's game. You go over the nuances that make the two contesting teams who they are. You look at their style, their key players, you look at matchups, how they might get a long with each. We'll look at the information in the computer based on the prior game they faced each other. That's part of what we do.

"Then we may read the local newspaper to see what the buzz was, maybe what coaches are planning to do or what conflicts occur prior to the game. We want to understand the dynamics of people's personalities and what they bring to the court, and I think it's a good safety measure.

"Then we go to the pregame meeting, pull out certain things that we want to focus on, four or five key items. The rest is to ref the game; at halftime take a look at some key plays, postgame, get our pertinent plays in for the office. Then we find a time when two or three of us can get together and see that game on a day off. You watch my plays. I watch your plays. We watch the game. We try to do collective work, crew work, as often as possible.

"I'd like that work to be done during the day, the following day. Not at night. When you do a game at night, you relive the game and you just don't sleep well. I want people to shut the thing down and go to sleep.

"Most people, including coaches, would believe we throw the ball up, get done, grab our stuff and let the teams deal with what went on. Absolutely, unequivocally not true."