Officiating basketball at the highest level is an impossibly difficult task. There’s a violation on each and every play of a game containing some 90-odd possessions. Not all of them get called, and sometimes the more innocuous ones get blown for a whistle than others that are more obvious to the naked eye.
That’s inevitable, but also leads to widespread scrutiny directed at NBA referees from players, coaches, upper management, fans, and more. Is the criticism fair? Sometimes. On the other hand, just think how hard it is for officials to manage a wildly intricate game played at a breakneck speed and with unrelenting physicality by the best athletes in the world – and do so flawlessly.
These guys don’t stand a chance. Still, some are clearly better than others, as the Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner found out after asking almost 40 players and coaches to anonymously select the league’s three best and worst officials.
Unsurprisingly, those polled favored a trio who have had ample time to hone their nearly hopeless craft: Danny Crawford (31 seasons), Joey Crawford (39 seasons), and Monty McCutchen (23 seasons). Each of those game-callers should be familiar to long-time hoop-heads; they’ve been in the league for ages and are frequently found officiating its most high-profile games.