Dick Bavetta’s Three Favorite NBA Crowds: L.A., New York, Boston

Recently retired NBA referee Dick Bavetta named his three favorite NBA crowds in an interview this week.

In a lengthy chat with Steve Aschburner of NBA.com’s Hang Time Blog, Bavetta revealed his favorite NBA cities, best crowds and most memorable fans, among other things:

Favorite NBA city: Phoenix, Miami, L.A. “I run my eight miles every day, even during the season, day of the game. So when I’m in warm weather, it makes it that much easier.”

Favorite hotel: The Marriott River Walk in San Antonio. “I’d always get a room on the 26th floor because it’s one of the few high-rise hotels where you can open the sliding doors and sit out on the balcony. The ambiance of the city and stuff like that.”

Favorite restaurant: “All of the Marriott concierge lounges. You can’t beat the continental breakfasts and the evening [snacks and beverages].” Can’t beat the prices, either, since it’s all comped for heavy-duty Marriott users.

Best crowds: L.A., New York and Boston. “Avid, knowledgeable basketball fans.”

Most memorable fans: Too many to list, from Jack Nicholson and his jibes courtside at Lakers games to seniors who thank him for motivating them to stay active. And there was a young couple who approached Bavetta during a layover at the Dallas airport a few years ago. “They asked if they could take my picture and I said sure,” Bavetta said. “They were on their honeymoon. They said, ‘This picture’s going into our wedding album.’

Choosing Los Angeles, New York and Boston makes sense considering how Madison Square Garden has always been regarded as the Mecca while the Lakers and Celtics have been very successful during Bavetta’s 39 years of refereeing in the league.

But, any ref — even a retired one like Bavetta — who names favorite NBA cities is sure to draw some controversy from fans. In Bavetta’s case, Miami Heat fans might have a gripe with him listing New York as one of his favorite crowds. You may remember, after the New York Knicks beat the Miami Heat 83-82 in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, members of the Heat were extremely upset at the officiating crew, who they felt were biased towards the Knicks.

Heat forward Jamal Mashburn said after the game the Knicks had three officials in their pocket. Bavetta was part of the Game 7 crew, along with Bennett Salvatore and Dan Crawford. A lot of the frustration stemmed from a late game timeout that was awarded to Knicks forward Latrell Sprewell, even though he appeared to have stepped out of bounds before signaling for a timeout. Heat point guard Tim Hardaway went as far as to call Dick Bavetta “Knick Bavetta” after the game.

Of course, since the Tim Donaghy controversy, fans have become more skeptical anytime an official makes a close call that swings a game. Having been in the league for 39 years, Bavetta was bound to draw the ire of not just Heat fans, but several other fan bases as well. By choosing three of the biggest NBA markets as his favorite crowds, it’ll surely bring back some sore memories for many teams who lost close games that involved Bavetta.

What do you think?

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