Sportress of Blogitude

NBA refs association, players association meet to discuss escalating tension

The tension between NBA referees and the league’s players has reached such a troubling point that representatives for both parties recently met in an effort to hash some things out.

A meeting was arranged between Lee Seham, the general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association, and Michele Roberts, the players association’s executive director, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The meeting, which lasted over two hours, occurred at the NBPA’s Manhattan offices.

Seham and Roberts discussed several referee-player issues, including the NBRA’s belief that the league office has become too lenient in allowing players’ aggressive verbiage toward refs.

Roberts countered that players are overwhelmingly disconcerted by what they believe is a disrespectful manner with which refs address players on the court.

One point of contention, per Roberts, is how referees escalate situations by holding up their hands in a “Stop Sign” gesture when players approach them.

“There have been four or five occasions when a player has gone to say, ‘Hey, what’s up with that?’ and the official holds his hand up like a stop sign, like, ‘I don’t have time to talk to you,'” Roberts said. “… Lee [Seham] told me, ‘That’s what they’re trained to do.’

“I think it’s a horrible idea. I hope someone over in [NBA] basketball operations will maybe reconsider that, because it doesn’t serve to be a de-escalation of things — it really pisses guys off. I don’t know whose idea it was, but I hope they revisit the wisdom of it. I mentioned to players who specifically complained, and they weren’t happy to hear that it was a part of the training.

“This is more about where they came up to an official and asked, ‘What’s up with that?’ and they’ve been given a technical for something other than an F-bomb.”

The NBA insists that referees are not instructed to use the “Stop sign” gesture, with NBA vice president of basketball operations Byron Spruell saying, “That’s not in their tool kit now.”

It would appear the parties have a long way to go to resolve their issues. But at least the sides are talking.