Blog Entry

NBA gets it right with ref ban

Posted on: May 20, 2010 6:40 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2010 7:02 pm
What Joe DeRosa did at halftime Tuesday night wasn't egregious. It wasn't close to a federal offense, even in David Stern's court of law.

A fan in the first row behind the scorer's table was heckling DeRosa, an 18-year veteran NBA referee. DeRosa didn't like it, so he tossed the basketball at the fan. The fan caught it and fired it back. DeRosa motioned for the fan to be ejected. That was it. Nobody got hurt.

No harm, no foul. Right? The Eastern Conference finals between the Magic and Celtics would continue without incident.

Not quite. The NBA did the right thing Thursday when it suspended DeRosa for one game without pay over the incident.

Was the punishment too harsh? Too draconian? Not at all, and here's why: The NBA has zero tolerance for player behavior when it comes to interacting with fans. Players are simply not allowed to physically engage fans in any way for obvious reasons -- the 2004 Palace brawl chief among them.

One of the best things about the NBA is how close the fans are to the action. When media seats used to be courtside in every arena, one of the most enjoyable aspects of sitting there was the verbal sparring between hecklers and players, and oftentimes, hecklers and refs. In many cases, the players and refs respected the hecklers who brought some creative material to their courtside seats.

But under no circumstances can a player lose his cool to the point where he physically engages a heckler -- even from a distance by, say, throwing a ball at somebody. If a player did that, he'd be suspended without a doubt. And the NBA shouldn't have different standards for referees.
DeRosa's suspension speaks to that very need for consistency and was well deserved. Especially in light of the fallout from the Tim Donaghy scandal, what's good for the players has to be good for the refs, too.

Nobody in any job in America takes as much abuse, or has a greater responsibility to maintain his composure, than an NBA ref. It's certainly understandable why DeRosa lost his cool. He's human. But he still had to be punished. And in this case, the punishment fit the crime.


Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 21, 2010 2:12 pm

NBA gets it right with ref ban

When I saw it going down, I didn't think the fan was that unruly and the ref didn't motion to eject him until he threw the ball back at the ref. I can't imagine what the ref expected him to do with the ball. The toss back to the ref wasn't malicious or hard even. It was a simple toss back. The ref clearly had a plan. The ref seemed crazy to me and not the fan.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 21, 2010 2:12 pm

NBA gets it right with ref ban

If you have ever officiating you would understand the referee's reaction. Its unacceptable but understandable. Buying a ticket does not give you the right to not only harass the officials but disturb others around you who pay the same price. Its a reflection of society and the tolerance NBA officials have for constant player compaints and gestures on calls. It is entertainment but not everyone thinks hecklers are cool.

Since: Nov 16, 2009
Posted on: May 21, 2010 12:34 pm

NBA gets it right with ref ban

what a ridiculous post...why bring in racial assumptions to this situation? Plain and simple: Ignorance.

Since: Jul 2, 2007
Posted on: May 21, 2010 12:06 pm

NBA gets it right with ref ban

Part of this is a reply to Mianivice....even if it was personal the ref should not have engaged the fan.  The ref has the option of removing the fan. I coach 16 thru 19 kids here is what i tell them: coaches coach players play, refs ref.....if you think trash talk interferes with your job step away. I will put someone in who can tolerate it since that player will be more valuable, best player plays for me not the most talented player plays. Trash talk exists in every sport; it gets nasty it gets personal...a player should be so focused on thier job that the words are nothing more than jumbled noise...same goes for refs or coaches. Everyone signs up for a job and if circumstances are such that you can't perform, step away.

Since: May 25, 2009
Posted on: May 21, 2010 11:03 am

NBA gets it right with ref ban

He should have been suspended for more than one game. He should be suspended for the rest of the series (at the least) if not the rest of the playoffs. It doesn't matter if the fan was out of line and said personal things, the ref is supposed to be a professional even if the fan isn't, which means you can't act out aggressively and throw a ball at a fan, a player, or anyone. The refs are supposed to be as professional as it gets because they're the ones calling the games but he acts like a teenager. There is no place for referees like that and the NBA needs to get it straight.

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:59 am

NBA gets it right with ref ban

Where the heck did the race card come from on this one?  Enough already...

Since: Aug 21, 2008
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:42 am

NBA gets it right with ref ban

That statement is so off base.

If he was a black player?

News flash: the NBA is 90 Black in terms of players.

if you're going to play the race card, at least play it where its applicable.

DeRosa was wrong. Should have kept his cool.

And your statement is offbase, out of line and definitely not needed in a discussion like this.

Since: Mar 14, 2009
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:03 am

NBA gets it right with ref ban

I am not seeing the significance of the action.  -Alright, maybe a little, but this is a pull the ref aside, let him know, "Hey we know this guy's and idiot, but don't let him get in your head", conversation.  Not a suspendable offense, unless he were to do it again.  The term "firing the ball", is a bit overstated.  It was more of a toss. 

No interaction permitted?  I understand and mostly agree with the policy, but how about the next time LeBron dives into the stands, and eats a fan's popcorn, you suspend him?  Not going to happen, and the post who wants to make this a racial matter is living with a self imposed complex.  I mean that came out of nowhere to draw that one in. 

This was not a news-worthy action until the NBA made it one.  I am not going to sleep easier knowing the NBA is policing. -In the end, I am also not losing sleep over this either.  It would have been a better action to kick the fan out, and let the ref know to notify security  if someone is becoming a nuisance. 

Since: Feb 15, 2007
Posted on: May 21, 2010 9:34 am

I agree 99%

He should have been suspended longer than this- if he was a (Black) player it would have been a multi-game suspension.

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: May 21, 2010 8:25 am

NBA gets it right with ref ban

Man, I saw this story, and thought Berger laid an egg on this one, and couldn't wait to chime in.  Then I read both your posts, and couldn't agree more;
None of us were present to hear what was said... but what if the fan crossed the line??  What happens if he said something personal?  LOst in this story is the fact the fan was the CEO of a major hotel chain.... and didn't get ejected, just moved, probably to a suite with everything comped.  I have no problem with the suspension, but the fan got no punishment for acting like a 12 year old when his dad is away.-miamivice82
Yep can't argue with this reasoning. And anyone who has paid the bucks to sit that close to the action should be able to get in some heckling. It should be part of the price of admission at those prices!-

Included in the price of admission is NOT the ability to march up and down behind the scorers bench UNLESS you're a bloated, spoiled a-hole.  What would have happened if you or I decided to pull that stunt?!  Out the door, for sure.

These entitlements are getting so tired.  That bum, or 'the fan,' as people keep referring to him, is a dink.  He should have been thrown out, as well.  Then he could watch the rest of the game in the back seat of his limo, and think about how much it was going to cost his company the next time they had to pay for his front row seats.  This is like the kid on the bus who heckles the driver until the driver talks back and then gets fired.  Get my point, here?!  Enough!!

Kick out the ref and kick out the unruly fan, or neither.  The NBA missed on this one.  You, too, Berger.

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