2022 Summer League

Former NBA player Richard Jefferson officiates Knicks vs. Blazers in Summer League

NBA analyst Richard Jefferson officiated a quarter of the Knicks-Trail Blazers NBA 2K23 Summer League game in Las Vegas.

Richard Jefferson served as a referee for 1 quarter of Monday’s Knicks-Blazers game in Las Vegas.

Just like everyone else who has played in the NBA, Richard Jefferson disagreed with a referee’s call from time to time during his 17-year career.

Monday night, he got to see what it is like trying to enforce the league rules in a live NBA game as he served as an official in the second quarter of the game between the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers.

In his career, Jefferson was called for 2,637 fouls, collected 45 technicals, fouled out of 14 games and got ejected twice. He now works as an analyst for ESPN, but was making his officiating debut at Summer League on Monday night.

Richard Jefferson remembers to signal for the 3-point attempt in Monday's Blazers-Knicks game.

“I didn’t want to do this,” Jefferson said. “The NBA asked would I be interested. I have such a tremendous amount of respect for the referees, how important they are to the game and I’ve always treated every single one of them as such. I just respect them because I know their importance to our game and to the integrity to our game.”

This was not some honorary assignment. The NBA put Jefferson to work to get him ready. Jefferson went to officiating meetings to prepare for the cameo role and weighed in on the experience at halftime of the game.

The current ESPN broadcaster learned how officials get prepared for games and how to translate that information to an actual game.

“Tremendous amount of knowledge about our game that I’ve learned sitting in classes with the best refs in the world,” Jefferson said on his Twitter account. “I do this because not many people would dare put themselves in this position. The more info I have, the more informed I am as a broadcaster.”

He’s gone through hours of instruction for this 10-minute gig, studying video with other referees and NBA executives. He’s been learning the terminology that referees use, along with the responsibilities that come with working each of the three positions on the officiating crew.

Jefferson said he’s certain the experience will make him a better analyst.

“It’s been amazing because I love the game of basketball,” Jefferson said. “I like talking about the game of basketball so now I get an opportunity to learn a whole new piece of the game. That’s like my dream, for a basketball junkie, to sit in there and see how the referees think, how they talk, how they act, how they work together as a team. That type of stuff to me is so beneficial.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.