Felger & Mazz: Former NBA Referee Jake O’Donnell Discusses State Of NBA Officiating
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Felger and Massarotti were joined by Jake O’Donnell, former NBA referee for 28 seasons, to talk about NBA officiating.
Where is the state of NBA officiating? How have things changed since O’Donnell’s days as a NBA referee?
“It’s different, let me put it that way. To me it just seems that they call ticky-tack things, and then the hard fouls that are going on under the basket, the don’t seem to be calling,” O’Donnel said.
Felger asked O’Donnell if certain referees are assigned in order to extend series, but O’Donnell said that’s not true. O’Donnell did say he noticed a disparity in the calls in the Celtics-Heat series.
“That doesn’t normally happen, especially in a playoff game when the officiating should be a lot better,” O’Donnell said. “You take [Paul] Pierce, his sixth foul. Wade was completely out of control and they called the sixth foul on a great player. You try to make sure it’s a good foul when you’re going to foul out one of the better players on the team. But to me, [Wade] was out of control, and if anything, the way he backed up into Pierce, it would’ve been an offensive foul. But it should’ve been a no-call.”
O’Donnell said he did believe Tim Donaghy did indeed act alone, and that the league improved once David Stern took over as commissioner.
“Personally, it did change for the better,” O’Donnell said. “David Stern’s done a hell of a job as far as I’m concerned. It’s a tough job he’s got but I think he does an outstanding job.”
O’Donnell was also asked about the technical foul called on Doc Rivers in Game 1.
“That was ridiculous,” O’Donnell said. “All he saw out of Doc’s mouth was ‘Hey, Ed.’ Doc’s not a person, even when I was there [when Rivers was a player], who doesn’t get out of hand. There’s times that he may, but I have never seen. But I watched that game and that was ridiculous. I can see the delay of game [technical called on Kevin Garnett]. They were probably warned a couple of times. … But that Doc Rivers foul was a ridiculous technical.”
O’Donnell also discussed how officials interacted with local team broadcasts.