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                   REFEREE MOUNTAIN
by Ronnie Nunn
 Ronnie Nunn, a veteran of 19 NBA sea-         tainly doesn't compare with serious         It requires strength in mind and body,
 sons, he is the NBA's Director of             climbing that documentary television        good footing, guidance, safety precau-
 Officials. He handles the day-to-day          shows reveal, but it includes skill and     tions, and other quality traits. Mostly, it
 management of the referee staff,              caution to reach the peak. Even for         is a step by step process. All of us wish
 including the daily instruction of the        those attempting facsimile mountain         for immediate gratifications in our pur-
 officials on the interpretation and appli-    climbing in some of the more progres-       suits in life but, in reality, greater
 cation of NBA playing rules. He reports       sive fitness centers, it proves to be a     accomplishments come after hard, dis-
 directly to Stu Jackson, Senior Vice          task as well. They've included this exer-   ciplined and step by step work.
 President, Basketball Operations.             cise and feat as an additional way to
                                               focus and concentrate in reaching a         At various levels we all think we're bet-
 I am not a mountain climber, except for       goal.                                       ter than we are and think we should be
 some experiences in hiking as a Boy                                                       selected ahead of the other official cho-
 Scout during the early developmental          Refereeing basketball has many of the       sen for an assignment. Officiating is also
 years of my youth. Hiking with all that       same principles as those needed to          a STEP by STEP process.
 gear was tough and demanding and it           climb mountains. First and foremost, the    Not one official I've ever seen has
 took a long while to reach the top. It cer-   accomplishment doesn't come quickly.        impacted any division, any conference,

    PAGE 42 | 13 2005 | FIBA ASSIST MAGAZINE
and any international or pro level catego-      ▼ NETWORK in your local area by find-         the obvious, open and closed angles,
ry with skills that reflected unprecedent-        ing and asking for opportunities to         consistency of calls and game manage-
ed value or expertise.                            referee and hone your skills in small       ment in naming a few.
                                                  venues - i.e. high school summer
Players do most of the impacting in bas-          leagues, year round recreation              Partnering describes the way we inter-
ketball.                                          leagues, etc.                               act with our fellow officials. It includes
Coaches, when they have talented play-                                                        our attitudes, character, demeanor and
ers, can create an environment that             ▼ COPY and /or MIMIC quality and suc-         the manner in which we work together
leads to winning results.                         cessful officials with respect to their     for the common good of the game and
Credit should be given to those who               signals and court demeanor and call         ourselves.
mesh talented people into winning                 selectivity.
teams. Certainly, other coaches can cre-                                                      There is a strong need for the assimila-
ate winning attitudes though the results        ▼ NEVER attempt to move upward too            tion of these two components in every
may not be reflected in the win column.           quickly. You may find yourself over-        officiated game. We are more involved
                                                  whelmed with a lack of expertise.           than ever with this thinking since the
Nonetheless, the best referees demon-             Returning to that opportunity can           "Three Person System" of refereeing bas-
strate their value after being taught,            either be distant or never.                 ketball games has become more broad-
mentored and supervised in their climb.                                                       ened. We must refine it and sophisticate
Basic criteria for accomplished officials       ▼ BE CAUTIOUS about presenting your-          it to meet the needs of excellence
are skills culminated in play calling,            self in competitions before getting         required of officials today.
game management techniques, experi-               the proper instruction and proper
ences in various venues and diplomatic,           experience. First impressions are           The most important and necessary piece
yet firm, decision making to name a few.          lasting.                                    in officiating is to get the play called cor-
One of the most important criteria is                                                         rectly. There's nothing new in this think-
ACCEPTANCE. Each of us forgets this             ▼ WORK towards unifying your per-             ing at all. However, the method in which
immeasurable piece. It's often found in           formance with your partners rather          to accomplish this goal needs fine-tuning
the minds and eyes of onlookers:                  than being a "know it all".                 of the individual and the crew. A more
Coaches,        Supervisors,       Athletic                                                   notable and obvious example in getting
Directors, General Managers, Owners,            ▼ REMEMBER to review your game and            the call right for officials and the viewing
Media and Fans. Even when your skills             critique your abilities. You can never      public is often seen when a controversial
and abilities register high on the profi-         be someone else so, build on your           call is made that requires a conference
ciency scale, it's not until a certain peri-      strengths and minimize / eliminate          of the officials. We've all seen these on
od of time passes that the official gets          your weaknesses.                            particular plays like, out of bounds, a
his/her proper respect.                                                                       score or no score concern, a rule inter-
                                                ▼ UNDERSTAND that refereeing at the           pretation, etc. The process of coming
Networking has its value on the referee-                                                      together must always continue. The
                                                  higher levels is a process defined by
ing climbing system. However, choosing                                                        results of those conferences reinforce to
                                                  slow and deliberate productivity.
the right training programs will develop                                                      all that the officials continue to demon-
your skills and will ultimately increase                                                      strate, that getting the right call is at the
                                                ▼ REFRAIN from anxiety knowing
your opportunities for success.                                                               foundation of the integrity of the game.
                                                  there's always a veteran official
Sometimes the "Old Boy Network" looks
                                                  ahead of you and he/she has the
like the political way to go but, in the long                                                 However, it's clear that officials cannot
                                                  believability and credibility that will
run your skills and continued experience                                                      conference on each and every call. The
                                                  later be yours.
are your closest allies. Remember that                                                        concern now is, how can we make the
there are others competing against you                                                        right call individually and as a crew, as
                                                The goal is to be a believable and
with "Old Boy Network" ties as well.                                                          the game moves as its rapid pace and
                                                respected official. Remember to enjoy the
Secured and polished skills are two of                                                        yet, employ working methodologies and
                                                climb. There's a great view from the top.
the safest ways to proceed.                                                                   dynamics to reach the lofty goals of mak-
                                                CREW DYNAMICS / PARTNERING                    ing correct calls?
Here are some recommendations for               The above title and concept is essential-
successful "Referee Mountain Climbing":         ly at the core of successful officiating      As mentioned above, there are several
                                                today. Neither the individual official nor    ways to optimize Crew Dynamics and
▼ SACRIFICE your time and money                 his / her crew can succeed in their           Partnering that will result in raising the
  when looking for the best training            respective work without giving strict         percentage of correct calls and correct
  program. Find the "Harvard" of                attention to Crew Dynamics and                no-calls in a game. Let's review the fol-
  Officiating camps and attempt to sign         Partnering.                                   lowing 10 steps:
▼ LOOK for the training program that            Crew dynamics include terms like              1. Understand what's required of you
  provides growth in you as a person            mechanics, primary and secondary cov-            from all three positions on the floor -
  and as an official.                           erage, rotations, call selectivity, calling      Trail, Lead and Slot [Center].
                                                                                                FIBA ASSIST MAGAZINE | 13 2005 | PAGE 43

2. Understand, interpret and apply the
   guidelines to the type fouls / violations
   you'll encounter at each position.

3. Be clear on your primary coverage at
   each position for yourself and your

4. Recognize secondary coverage and
   apply yourself to help on those plays
   that clearly require a whistle.

5 Recognize the Purpose of Rotation.
  Give meaning to your movement and
  know that you should rotate in the lead
  to the ball side [strong side] as often as

6. Remove from your mindset a "sense of
   urgency" in attempting to judge plays in
   your primary or secondary that are
   unclear and inconclusive. DEPEND ON

7. Reinforce for yourself and the crew
   that, all plays are either fouls/viola-
   tions, or they are not. Inconclusive
   [borderline] plays are not fouls or viola-

8. DON'T GUESS!.... Refer to item 6 above.

9. Don't be offended by a whistle in your
   primary blown by your partner from
   his/her secondary. He or she should
   not whistle the play unless it can be
   clearly validated as a foul or violation.

10. Understand that some calls creep
    through that are missed by all on the
    floor at one time or another. It is the
    nature of the business. However, we
    must attempt to keep those instances
    to a bare minimum and "make them the
    exception rather than the rule".

In summarizing, it's more and more evident
to all those who watch our game, play in it,
coach it, scrutinize it, and follow it, that
there's a continued need and a demand for
excellence in our work as officials. We         that result in bettering our abilities and   ing schedule may take them.
must use the current tools available to us in   chances to officiate basketball games at     Be encouraged to know that education of
making us better by securing mentors,           all levels.                                  the issues and individual talent will promote
using video tape, honing our skills work in     Crew Dynamics and Partnering are major       you from within yourself, while the results of
productive summer and winter leagues            keys in the development of those officials   your hard work, schooling and skills will
and attending camps that teach, instruct        who wish to reach higher goals and meet      promote you to those who will undoubtedly
and develop the current edge approaches         greater successes wherever their officiat-   take notice.