• Top NBA referees are paid handsomely.

  • Experienced referees like Scott Foster and Tony Brothers will be assigned to the biggest games and playoff series.

  • How much do NBA referees make?


The most famous NBA referees are as recognisable as many players. Their tendencies and past decisions will play a part in NBA betting decisions.

Like in any elite sport, the job of officiating at the highest level is intense. It’s an unforgiving environment, a role that attracts far more criticism than praise.

NBA Referee Salary Guide:

NBA referees get greater respect than Premier League officials, for instance, but it’s still an incredibly difficult job, with each and every decision analysed from hundreds of angles.

Those who frequently focus on the NBA when they bet online will be familiar with many of the league’s high-profile referees.

Given the tens of millions earned per year by the star players, it’s inevitable to wonder how the officials are compensated for taking charge of such high-pressure games.

In this article, we’ll look into the life of NBA referee from salary to in-game responsibilities.

NBA Officials Roles:

In the NBA, there’s one lead official who takes on the role of crew chief. They are accompanied by one referee and one umpire.

The umpire will take on a lot of play calling. According to the NBA website, the umpire is responsible for ‘basic mechanics including rotations, positioning and clock and team foul awareness’.

The umpire will have in-depth knowledge of all rules and will have the focus on the main action in the game.

The referee is going to have a broader view of the game. They are less responsible for straight forward foul calls on the ball, but will be looking for off-ball indiscretions like moving screens or paint violations.

Referees are described as the ‘glue’ of an officiating crew by the NBA’s website.

A good NBA referee will use their experience to have a sense of changing game state. This is both through noting basketball actions like hard fouls and being aware of a change in atmosphere or emotions.

The crew chief is the most experienced of the group. They are qualified and experienced to operate as a referee or umpire.

Crew chiefs will oversee the game more generally than the umpire or referee and will lead the officiating crew on and off the court – they will be at the forefront of major decisions.

All three NBA officials will come together on occasion to discuss decisions. They are also helped out by video.

NBA Video Replays:

Just like in the Premier League and NFL, the use of video replays and decision reviews has been controversial in the NBA. Many would argue they are used too frequently – a coach’s challenge was introduced for the 2019-20 season.

Most plays are reviewable in the NBA. Officiating crews will often congregate around a monitor to ponder a potential technical foul, get the game clock correct or decide who should have possession on an out of bounds play late in the game.

How much do NBA refs make
Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo


The coach’s challenge is not universally popular. NBA head coaches can call a timeout and challenge one play per game.

Peculiarly, they lose the challenge regardless of whether it is successful. In some instances, they will get the timeout back if the challenge ‘wins’.

Video replays have broadly helped NBA officials. Of course, there are still big calls that they get wrong, and these are often highlighted in the final two-minute report.

Famous NBA Referees:

Scott Foster and Tony Brothers are two of the most famous active NBA referees. Both officials were used in the 2019 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Heat – it was Foster’s 13th NBA Finals assignment and Brothers’ 9th.

The most followed NBA players are familiar with Foster and Brothers. Past NBA stars had to deal with different NBA refereeing personalities, including Mike Mathis, who enjoyed a long refereeing career from 1976 through to 2001. Mathis officiated in 12 NBA Finals.

Monty McCutchen is a recognisable name for basketball fans, too. McCutchen is now working to train referees – he first officiated an NBA game in the 1993-94 season.

Other famous former NBA referees include Bob Delaney, Richie Powers and Dan Crawford.


*Credit for the main photo belongs to Carlos Osorio / AP Photo*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 20th January 2021

 

About the Author
By
Sam Cox

Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.