On the Road with Mike: The Trained Eye

This evening I will head over to the NBA’s annual referee training camp. They have invited various members of the media who cover teams around the league to attend a debriefing regarding rule changes for the upcoming 2010-11 season.

The training camp got underway yesterday in Jersey City. The 60-person NBRA staff consisting of both young and veteran officials must undergo both physical and written tests to make sure they not only have a clear understanding of the rules, but also can meet the physical demands of their floor-pounding job.

We in the media will also be tested. Last year they had us answer about 20 questions regarding various rules and scenarios. After being involved with the NBA in one capacity or another for over three decades, I figured I’d know most of the answers. But I was surprised by how many I wound up getting wrong due to the nuances of the regulations. It was indeed an eye-opener.

In addition to helping us appreciate the difficulty of their job, the NBRA will ensure that we are informed of any new rules. From what I gather The NBA Board of Governors has again approved the expanded use of instant replay to help officials get the calls right.

Each season they call up a few officials from the college ranks or NDBL. A handful of vets have recently retired including Joe DeRosa, Joe Forte, Sean Corbin and Phil Robinson so I’m anxious to see who the new faces are and I look forward to meeting them. I also look forward to catching up with a couple of the old-time refs who missed last season due to injuries like Steve Javie, who will try to come back and pass the physical in order to return for his 25th season.

Once the pre-season gets underway on October 3, they will send refs around the country to NBA training camps and do the same thing with coaches and players that they are doing with us in order to facilitate understanding and help them avoid those costly technicals.

The good news tonight is whether I pass or fail the test, I won’t get hit with any technicals and lose money out of my pocket like back when I was coaching.