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News » SCARS & STRIPES - BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON NBA 'REF'-ORMATION


SCARS & STRIPES - BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON NBA 'REF'-ORMATION


SCARS & STRIPES - BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON NBA 'REF'-ORMATION ONE OF the approximately 65 locked-out NBA referees alleges the below issue to be the deal breaker in negotiations between the league and the striped shirts' union/association that broke off two weeks ago after an agreement seemingly had been reached but was subsequently vetoed by its membership.

"The NBA proposed the use of Development League officials during the regular season working between 50-100 assignments, whenever and wherever it saw fit," discloses the whistle blower, who shall remain anonymous for the time being though I can't recall him (that eliminates Violent Palmer) requesting it Friday during our halfhour phone conversation.

"We understand the benefits of giving young referees on-the-job training alongside experienced professionals. The stalemate is the NBA's inflexible position barring these refs from joining our association. Both sides evidently view this as a deal breaker."

Not unexpectedly, the league's perspective, presented by someone in the know, is a whiter shade of pale: "The D-League assignments we agreed on with their union allowed for 50 appearances. They rejected the entire deal and did not come back on any specific issue."

I have yet to verify or invalidate that assertion. However, sources on both sides of the table confirm each replacement ref earns the fixed amount of $1,100 per exhibition game. Their wages will go unchanged once the regular season gets underway. Upper echelon refs like Joe Crawford, Steve Javie, Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney, Bennett Salvatore and Dan Crawford, working an 82-game schedule, get paid anywhere from $5,000 to 7,000 per appointment.

Salaries aren't the only vast savings by the NBA . Their expired contract entitled locked out refs to fly first class and drive full-size cars, modus operandi projected to continue once this matter is resolved.

Replacement refs, on the other hand, must fly coach and rent midsized vehicles. Furthermore, they had to share a room during last month's training period, which is not the case now that they're on the road; they get an unspecified per diem and book their own hotel rooms, the same procedure as previously.

"If we're locked out for, say, three months, the NBA figures to save $1.5 million," my original source estimated. "I hope David Stern feels it's worth it when games are won and lost every night due to inconsistent calls, not being up on the rules and overall inefficiency."

During The Finals, readers were alerted old hands (and relatively big money makers) Jack Nies and Luis Grillo unofficially had retired, and Jim Clark and Ron Olesiak had been quickly fazed out of the playoffs; they've since retired as well.

Olesiak purportedly was told by superior Bernie Fryer, "You're just not getting up and down the floor like you used to."

No argument there. The 62-year-old was forced to sit out the 2007-08 season due to thyroid cancer and its consequential radiation and chemotherapy.

So, yeah, Olesiak, a Vietnam vet, Hall of Fame slow- and fast-pitch softball player and habitually perfect specimen, hadn't quite made a full recovery from cancer in '08-09.

Not that players or coaches noticed. Not that co-workers felt compelled to cover for him. Not that it distantly made him an incompetent referee.

Nevertheless, Olesiak, an NBA tweeter for 21 seasons, was notified by a league official in early July to "retire or be fired."

The commissioner has the right to get rid of any ref within two weeks after the season, for whatever reason. So, with no recourse, Olesiak retired.

But, wait, it gets worse, bad enough to be ejected by your second family, the one that professes to care. Topping those irreconcilable feelings, I've got to believe, is seeing son Ron Jr. working as a replacement official during the lockout.

In contrast, Tom Mauer, brother of Ken, who worked last June's Finals, rejected the NBA's offer to become a replacement. Both brothers are busy rooting for their cousin, Twins catcher Joe Mauer.

Initially, that was going to be the kicker to this story. Until learning Fryer, who re-joined the NBA as a replacement ref a couple decades ago after being fired seasons before, is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for prostate and rectum cancer.

*

Shades of Yinka Dare: Chris Douglas-Roberts has one assist in 67 minutes. Nate Robinson thinks he's a chucker.

As if the Spurs didn't reload enough weapons - Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff - Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair is giving them an injection of muscle and young blood. Against the Rockets the 6-foot-8 forward bagged an unreal 16 points and 19 points in 22 minutes. That ain't right!

Donnie Walsh should not look know. While Jordan Hill looks lost more times than not, Brandon Jennings, the Bucks' find (after the Knicks passed on him at No. 8) piled up 18 points (5-11 FG, 6-10 FT), six assists, six steals, four rebounds and five turnovers in 27 minutes against the Pistons.Nice to see Speedy Claxton healthy for a change. On the shelf injured for as long as I remember, the Queens guard actually played 17 minutes (six points, four assists) for the Warriors against the Lakers.

Phil Jackson says Pau Gasol is the best offensive center he ever coached. Yes, better than Shaquille O'Neal.

"Get him the ball 10 times and you score seven of them," Jackson said. "He's the ideal complement for Kobe because he has no personal agenda."


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 14, 2009

 

 
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