Since September 1, the referees of the National Basketball Association have been without a contract. It seems that the climate of the negotiations got, to say the least, a little catty, because NBA commissioner David Stern is not willing to return to the negotiation table at this point. So, with the beginning of the NBA’s preseason, replacement referees have been brought in from lower-level basketball leagues everywhere, and they will probably still be used when the regular season begins later this month.
This means that the possibility for general chaos and confusion in a given NBA game will, in all probability, be greatly increased. That and free throw attempts. Great. Maybe they should just adopt the “offense calls their own fouls” rule and see how long it takes until half the league is on the disabled list.
The main question mark in this experiment also doubles as one of the best parts about the NBA: the wide range of personalities you can find throughout the league. That is to say, there are some pretty strange guys who are really good at basketball in this world. And now, they will be thrown into highly-emotional situations with replacement referees, who I’m guessing may not receive the same level of respect as the NBA’s referees, which wasn’t very high in the first place. As Dr. Alan Grant said in Jurassic Park, “How can we possibly have the slightest idea of what to expect?”
So, here are a few players that may have the toughest time adjusting to the replacement referees this season.
Kenyon Martin- Martin was quoted recently about the new referees, and he had this to say: "I'm going to have 15 technicals in the first month just for the simple fact that [replacement refs] don't know how I run my mouth," Martin told The Washington Post. "The game is going to be terrible with those replacements." Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Kobe Bryant- Kobe does not seem to enjoy being bothered by what he probably considers inferior beings, like Smush Parker or Raja Bell, for example. I’m guessing back-up referees will make that list as well.
Ron Artest- Speaking of people who have annoyed Kobe Bryant in the past, how about his newest Laker teammate. This one is based on Artest’s reputation as a raving loon more than anything else. I have a feeling that if he does anything even mildly controversial in a game (which he will); he could be hit with about three technicals at once from every referee on the court.
Tony Parker- Because with the amount he whines and cries to regular NBA officials, I don’t think all the croissants in France will be enough to soak up his tears after a call doesn’t go his way this season. Boom, French joke!
Rasheed Wallace- During the 2000-2001 season, Wallace had 40 technical fouls, which as you may have guessed, led the league that season (it also set the NBA record for technicals). Since then, he has led the NBA in technicals six of the past nine seasons. Oh boy. Is his magical record of 40 in jeopardy? I sure hope so.