Blogtable: Would NBA benefit from more referees?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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The NBA Development League will experiment with four- and five-person officiating crews for nine upcoming games. Do you think additional officials on the court could improve the NBA game?
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Steve Aschburner: Why stop at four or even five referees? Let’s assign a referee to every player. Then let’s station one on each baseline and sideline for out-of-bounds calls. It would be effective to have two more up in the rafters to instantly adjudicate whether someone’s toes were or were not touching the 3-point line when they shot. What are we up to now, 16 refs? Come on. The first thing you get with additional referees is additional whistles, because now you’ve got four or five officials trying to justify themselves rather than three (or in days of yore, two). My understanding was, every game has the Ultimate Referee sitting in a technologically loaded bunker in Secaucus, N.J., a.k.a. the Replay Center. Let’s continue to refine how that gets used and hopefully the elapsed time needed to get reviews correct. Oh, and there’s one more argument against more than three referees — they’d need two cabs, not one, to get from their hotels to the games. That’s not fossil-fuel efficient.
Fran Blinebury: Depends on your definition of improvement. Because I imagine the only thing that could make a 2 1/2 to 3-hour NBA game more entertaining would be even more fouls, more free throws and more icepick-through-the-temple annoying video reviews that turn each game into a 4- to 5-hour test of endurance and sanity. And I’m just talking about the viewers. Then the death of each game could be mind-numbingly re-examined on a new show NBA TV show called: CSI: Secaucus.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The real question should be how long before we need a referee to call block/charge on the referees? Five refs on the court with 10 players will be interesting. I come back to the thought that another pair (or two) of eyes isn’t the problem. Three plus Big Brother replay center don’t fail to see much. Let’s also keep in mind this is nothing but an occasional experiment for the D-League. We are a long way from seeing it as part of the NBA.
Shaun Powell: From a purely efficient standpoint, yes. But the potential cost is seeing additional fouls and slowing the game down. Besides, the league already has an extra set of eyes: instant replay. These are the best refs in the world. Let it be. Three is enough.
John Schuhmann: Yes. Having the proper angle to see a call/no-call is critical and an extra official or two increases the likelihood that one will have the proper angle on any given play.
Sekou Smith: I don’t. I think it could potentially slow things down and create more chaos for the officials and for the players. Joe Borgia and the replay center crew do a fine job. And there are always going to be calls that get missed, I don’t care if you have an official on the floor to keep up with each player. But there’s nothing wrong with tinkering with the idea of four or five officials in the D-League lab. It’s a science experiment well worth the time and effort, but not necessarily something that needs to find its way to the NBA anytime soon.
Ian Thomsen: I don’t. In this field of expertise, quality is more important than quantity, and I think we can agree that the new referees are more likely to lower the quality of officiating than to raise it. As a result, I fear, these new bloated officiating crews would spend too much time managing themselves. In the end, this experiment is going to prove that three is the right number.
Lang Whitaker: Perhaps I am becoming more Republican in my old age but to me it feels like NBA games might benefit from less regulation, not more. End-of-game scenarios still often devolve into tests of the Replay Center protocols — see the end of the Blazers-Clippers earlier this week — and it seems like having more referees out there would not serve to expedite things. I’m also curious, just from an aesthetic view, how a basketball court with 15 people running around will look. I’d love to see them also test going back to two refs, although at this point I suppose that toothpaste is already out of the tube.
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