Specifically, “Come Back,” by Josh Rouse.
The Newswire reports that the NBA has made a new proposal to the NBRA, which could put both parties back in-line by tip off next Tuesday. That is assuming the Referees Association is getting what it wants out of the new proposal. They are now in the position of power in the situation, and can demand their terms be met.
Players, and coaches in particular, have not taken to the replacement referees. There have been a number of fines levied by the NBA. However, that has not stemmed the tide of criticism. What’s worse is that with every fine, comes a news story. NBA Coaches complaining about officiating is nothing new. However, when a fine is attached, it’s almost always reported. The very mechanism the NBA hoped to use to quell bashing of the replacement refs has actually disseminated it. With the wake of Tim Donaghy still undulating ever so slightly, the NBA does not need the bad press.
I’ve watched precious little preseason action, and what I’ve seen seemed pretty much normal. Of course, you don’t have players going their hardest yet. The game is at three-quarters speed until the 27th. But the NBA marketing department knows this is not about stats and analysis. It’s about public image at this point. The NBA worked very hard to repair it’s image after “The Malice at the Palace.” It massaged the Tim Donaghy situation with deft skill (I mean really, a ref was betting on games, fixing them, and it didn’t hurt their ratings the following season one bit). The last thing they need is the constant criticism of officiating from the media, and the coaches. It seems they’ve done the math, and giving the refs the pension they want may actually be the least costly path to take.The refs for their part must not overplay their hand. Memory is short in professional sports. Artest and Donaghy prove that as much damage as is done, it can always be forgotten. Players and coaches could very well get used to the replacement refs as quickly as by the All Star Break. The replacement refs themselves will get better as time goes on. It would be unwise to drag the situation out too long.
Optimism says this is good news for everyone involved. Hopefully, the refs can get what they want (pension). The players and coaches can get what they want (good refs). The fans get what they want (clean games). And the NBA can then get what they want (ratings).