Whiny NBA Refs Want the League to Stop Pointing Out Their Mistakes

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Photo: Noah Graham

In March of 2015, the NBA began issuing L2M (Last 2 Minute) reports that point out all the terrible mistakes referees make when the spotlight is the brightest. After an atrocious playoffs that’s seen one blown call after another, the referees union is crying foul.

The National Basketball Referees Association released a statement today calling on the NBA to return to an era of secrecy, when the league’s evaluations of their calls were kept private. The current system, the statement argues, “encourages anger and hostility towards NBA officials.”

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Another is that the bad calls made by refs in the last two minutes of games encourage anger and hostility toward NBA officials.

This union’s stance here is no surprise. The refs feel undermined each time the league comes out and says they screwed up. L2M reports put an official stamp on what fans already knew. But if refs think keeping their reviews secret will somehow reduce hostility, they’re misguided.

Fans don’t need the NBA’s L2M reports to know about blown calls. They see them, in real time, during the game. Endless replays from countless angles ensure that. Meanwhile, the statistics show that NBA refs generally do a good job at an incredibly difficult job. But it’s easier to notice when they get things wrong than when they get them right. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has defended officials, saying, “Human error is part of this game, and the best athletes in the world make mistakes. And coaches occasionally make mistakes. Officials do, too.”

Unlike players and coaches, who are the constant target of criticism, refs want to be forgiven for their mistakes though. And in a sense, they are. The league actually reviews officiating for the entire game, but those reports aren’t released to the public. Refs should be glad fans aren’t reminded of their screwups in the other 46 minutes.

Sorry, refs, but there are no participation trophies in pro sports.