Basketball Referee

Basketball Referee


20 Years Experience

Chicago, IL

Male, 60

For twenty years I officiated high school, AAU and park district basketball games, retiring recently. For a few officiating is the focus of their occupation, while for most working as an umpire or basketball referee is an avocation. I started ref'ing to earn beer money during college, but it became a great way to stay connected to the best sports game in the universe. As a spinoff, I wrote a sports-thriller novel loosely based on my referee experiences titled, Advantage Disadvantage

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604 Questions


Last Answer on July 09, 2018

Best Rated

What's the worst thing you've seen a player do to earn an ejection?

Asked by Not LeBron about 6 years ago

A player chest bumped my partner and nearly knocked him over. On the way down, he threw the player out.

Did the HS or AAU games you ref'd ever have (legal) betting lines on them in Vegas or the like? And if so, were you trained to look out for point-shaving or other score manipulations?

Asked by aaron5 about 6 years ago

No, I never officiated a game where there was any legal betting.There were anecdotal stories and rumors about betting on high school games, but I don't have first hand knowledge. Here is a story told to me which I have every reason to believe is true, and it also served as the inspiration for my novel's storyline: A ref was called the night before to fill in for a park district game in Chicago. He was going to be paid $100 to be the only official (high game fee should have raised a red flag). He showed up and there were a couple hundred people surrounding the outdoor court in a park. Two huge guys from opposing gangs met the ref at his car and explained that they were there to protect him ("no quips") no matter what his calls were. The pressure level was raised and the ref was worried. As he approached the court, he saw guys as old as 35 in the layup lines, in pro-style uniforms - this was no park district kids league, this was the gang banger's league. He called the coaches and captains together for a quick pre game conference (hoping to preempt problems). While holding the conference one of the "managers" answers his phone an accepts a bet for 10 biscuits. The ref asks him about the bet and learns that a biscuit is $1,000 . The manager brags that he has accepted a lot more than $10,000 on this game. By now the ref was sweating bullets. The ref took off running to the parking lot and jumped in his car while the 2 assigned gangbangers chased after him. He was able to escape.

Are there any notable players in the NBA now that you officiated when they were younger?

Asked by Madam Charles about 6 years ago

Shannon Brown is the most famous player on the court when I officiated when he played at Proviso East High School.

How often is the basketball rulebook amended and are you alerted right away when it is?

Asked by The Duke about 6 years ago

The National Federation of High Schools revises the rules annually. The last most significant rule change (in my opinion) was implemented a couple years ago. Before the change, when a player with the ball committed a foul it was an offensive foul. Likewise, before the change, if a player on the offensive team WITHOUT the ball committed a foul it was considered a common foul and if the other team was in the bonus free throws were attempted. When they changed the rule they added a foul type (offensive team foul) and it is penalized like a player control foul - no free throws. Most changes to the rule book are "points of emphasis" or mechanic changes. It seems rough post play and hand-checking are annual points of emphasis. An example of a mechanics change was made several years ago so that the referee reporting a foul now normally stays table-side (near the coaches to explain a call if necessary) while the other officials rotate away. It used to be that in Illinois for example, when you paid your annual state registration dues you received three books: rules, case studies, and mechanics. To cut costs, most officials in Illinois now receive the books every other year. You can go to and see the changes legislated by sport prior to each season.

What's your worst blown call? And on a related note, if you make a bad call and you know it, is it hard not to try and "make good" with a favorable call to the other team later in the game?

Asked by Swisha-mang about 6 years ago

I once passed on a block/charge situation because I thought it was one of my partner's call. I was wrong and it was mine to make. So, nothing was called even when the players went sprawling. Both coaches were pissed, and were right. There was a foul in there, and a no call was horrible. By the way, some of my best calls were no calls, even when the crowd howls for something. I am so conscious of not coming back with a make-up call that I think I overcompensate and dig in to the detriment of the team whose call I booted.

How many free throws for calling 2 Technical fouls(consecutively) on the Head Coach for arguing? Head Coach is ejected on 2nd Technical foul.

Asked by over 5 years ago

In National Federation High School rules each technical is awarded 2 free throws, except if there are off-setting technicals on both teams. Remember a coach can be tossed on 1 technical for a flagrant behavior, for two direct technicals or 3 indirect/directs. In your question the team would be awarded 4 free throws plus the ball.

If you see a replay after a game and realize you blew a call, do you admit it or apologize next time you ref a game for the team you screwed?

Asked by paul about 6 years ago

I admit it during a game if I boot a call. Most coaches would favor honesty as in, "hey coach you are probably right about that last call - after thinking about it I think I made the wrong call", as opposed to trying to argue something you realize is not true. So if there was a question of rule or angle of play, and if I determined that I made a bad call or applied a rule in error I would definitely contact the coach and explain what my thinking was, and why I now think I may have been wrong. That's me, other ref's never ever say they made a bad call.