Posts Tagged ‘Bob Delaney’

Refs mourn friend, colleague Nolan Fine


Nolan Fine brought a relaxed approach to his job as an NBA referee, his close friend and colleague Joe Forte said Tuesday, and it served him well in his 16 seasons officiating in the league.

So did his sense of humor. Forte recalled a game in Sacramento about 25 years ago, back in the low-tech days, when referees filled out their game reports and technical foul reports on paper and mailed them to NBA HQ. So when a courtside fan loudly wondered why Fine wasn’t T-ing up several obstinate players, the ref fired back “I can’t afford all the stamps.”

Fine, 60, died Saturday in Virginia Beach, Va., news that hit Forte hard. The men had been friends for three decades, dating back to their time together working college basketball games in the Metro Conference. When their performance in the 1987 NCAA tournament earned them, along with Joe Sylvester, the assignment of the Indiana-Syracuse championship game, Fine at 31 became the youngest referee ever to work that event.

“He stayed relaxed but his mind was really into the game,” Forte said by phone Tuesday. “He knew team fouls, personal fouls, time on the clock… He was a real journeyman referee whom you liked on the court and off the court. It was always a real pleasure to see his name on the assignment sheet next to mine.”

Of Fine’s passing, Bob Delaney, NBA vice president of referee operations, said: “Nolan Fine was a great NBA Official and an even better person. Nolan will be remembered for his passion and commitment to our profession. Every NBA referee, past and present, offers condolences to his family.”

Fine, born in Norfolk, Va., played varsity golf in high school and at Tulane University so well that Forte wondered why he didn’t try to qualify for the pro tour. Fine’s entry into basketball came from attending Virginia Squires games in the old American Basketball Association and becoming friendly with longtime NBA/ABA ref Joe Gushue. It was Gushue who helped Fine gets his start as a college referee.

Fine and Forte, 11 years older, moved to the NBA in 1988. After Fine exited the league a decade ago due to a back disability and Forte retired, Fine assisted his friend in supervising referees in the Big South Conference.

Two years ago, after an official ejected an especially abusive fan from an Old Dominion game, a Norfolk TV station sought out Fine as a local authority. He said such incidents are rare but acceptable, and he mentioned the 2001 game in Miami when an NBA ref tossed out singer Jimmy Buffett over a profanity-laced rant from his courtside seat. That referee was Forte.

Forte noted, among the things basketball fans might not have known about Fine, was that he was an art collector, as well as a fan of the “Rat Pack” and Jerry Lewis. His obituary can be found here.

Longtime NBA referee Delaney to join Naismith Hall of Fame board

In a nod to the notion that there are three teams involved in every basketball game – the home team, the road team and the referee team – the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is adding former NBA referee Bob Delaney to its Board of Trustees, a league source told NBA.com.

Delaney, currently the league’s vice president of referee operations, becomes the first game official to be part of either the Hall’s 30-member Board of Trustees or its 23-member Board of Governors. The announcement of Delaney’s addition is expected with the boards’ meetings Tuesday in Springfield, Mass., home of the basketball shrine.

Longtime NBA ref Dick Bavetta will be enshrined with other members of the Class of 2015 on Sept. 11. Bavetta, who officiated in the NBA for 39 years, will become the 15th referee honored among more than 300 inductees representing professional, amateur and international basketball.

Instant Replay Here To Stay — And Seems Likely To Grow, As Well

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SAN ANTONIO – No game in The Finals has been decided or even tilted dramatically in the final seconds by the use of the NBA’s replay rule. But some day that will happen, at which point we know these things will happen:

  • The officiating crew will huddle, then move as one to the sideline. The crew chief will don a headset to put him in communication with the broadcast truck outside the arena, and all three refs will watch and re-watch a series of slow- and regular-motion video clips, sometimes zoomed to the brink of graininess.
  • Fans, players and coaches will simultaneously focus their gazes on the video screens in house.
  • Players will gulp water, towel off and catch their breath while coaches pounce on the moment to call out a play, offer some advice and do otherwise timeout-ly things.
  • If the replays support the home team’s side of the disputed play, home fans will amp up their noise in hopes of influencing the refs down below. If the video evidence looks to support the visitors, the joint gets quieter.
  • ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy will sneer at the whole process, saying that the correct call was obvious from the start. He’ll do this whether he’s working the game for ABC/Disney or whether he’s on a weekend getaway in the Alps.
  • Folks at home, remote in hand, feet raised, will glance at the time and realize how soon that morning alarm clock is going to go off. They too will get antsy.
  • The people at NBA HQ in New York’s Olympic Tower will smile, satisfied that the game will be adjudicated correctly and that there will be less work waiting in the morning in terms of appeals, error reports and cranky feedback.

That last item, you should know, carries enough weight to trump everything else on that list when it comes to current and future usage of “instant relay review triggers,” as Rule No. 13 of the official NBA rulebook calls them.

Just the other day in Miami, as the 2013 Finals started, NBA commissioner David Stern reaffirmed his support of the rule and talked of broadening it. It’s one of the agenda items for the league’s competition committee when it meets this week in San Antonio.

“Everyone with a smart phone can see it, everyone at home can see it, and everyone who is sitting with the scoreboards that are going to be the new toy of our arenas that give a great view [can see it].” Stern said. “But the poor officials don’t really see it that way. It’s discordant to us. The idea is to have the game decided on its merits.”

Players, coaches, referees and NBA sages contacted for this story also landed overwhelmingly on the side of getting calls correct. Many suggested tweaks, but the bottom line for all was accuracy over elapsed time or any other objection.

“You’re stopping the flow of the game and you’re lengthening the game,” coach and broadcaster Hubie Brown said. “Pretty soon it’s going to be like baseball, where it never ends. But coaches and players do not want to have a game lost because somebody blew a call, either on an out-of-bounds play or a bad call.”

The last two minutes of games, in which plays such as Brown mentioned bring action to a halt, turn the spotlight on replay in a way that’s not always enjoyable. There is a delay. There is what sometimes appears to be indecision being played out in front of the world. But the alternative seems unthinkable to many. (more…)