How are refs selected for the NBA finals?
With the stakes as high as ever in the NBA Finals, one can imagine that the way in which the league selects referees for the series is a meticulous process.
It’s never easy being a referee in any sport. Whether it’s the players who berate you, the coach who tries to tell you how to do your job, or the fans who accuse you of taking bribes, the point remains the same: It’s a tough job.
How are referees chosen for the NBA Playoffs?
As explained by NBA vice president/head of referee development and training, Monty McCutchen, playoff refs are selected based on season-long evaluations from the league’s referee operations staff, input from teams, and play-calling accuracy. The operations staff itself consists of McCutchen, senior vice president/head of referee operations Michelle D. Johnson, president of league operations Byron Spruell, and referee development advisors Mark Wunderlich, Bernie Fryer, E.F. Rush, Bennett Salvatore, and Joe Crawford.
“We have rating and ranking of officials based on our work we do with officials all year long,” McCutchen said. Of course, coaches and teams can offer input via a midseason evaluation and feedback following each game, something that McCutchen believes is essential. “That gives us an idea of how the stakeholders being impacted by our work believe who’s working well throughout the season,” McCutchen said.
Is there a difference in how NBA Finals referees are selected?
While the process of selection mirrors that which is used to select referees for the playoffs in general, it’s worth noting that the 12 game officials who are assigned to the NBA Finals are chosen on the basis of their performance across the first three rounds of the playoffs itself. Each one is evaluated after each round to determine whether they’ve demonstrated that they can make accurate calls when the pressure is well and truly on.
“The pinnacle for an NBA official is to work the NBA Finals,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations. “This group has demonstrated through their outstanding work during the playoffs that they are worthy of being selected to officiate in the NBA Finals.” Below you can see the list of referees who are calling the 2023 NBA Finals along with the amount of NBA Finals games that they’ve officiated in their respective careers prior to the start of this current series.
Additionally, NBA officials Tyler Ford and Ben Taylor have been assigned as alternates for the 2023 NBA Finals.