The NBA relies heavily on referees because they have to uphold the rules of the game and fair play. His choice can significantly affect the outcome of the game as one decision can make the difference between a team’s victory or defeat.
Ensuring that players are safe by preventing risky or illegal moves is one of the main responsibilities of the officials. Additionally, they are in charge of signal violations and penalties such as double dribbling or traveling, which may cost the opposing team a miss or set of free throws.
Additionally, officials must be fair and objective throughout the game and have a thorough understanding of the NBA rulebook. As a result, they must make decisions based solely on their observation, without favoring any particular player or team.
Keeping this in mind, here is a list of the best NBA referees of all time.
We’ve got the most infamous referee in sports history. Tim Donaghy is not on this list for being one of the greatest NBA referees of all time. Instead, people remember him for fixing games, racking up points, and jeopardizing the credibility of the league, perhaps forever. Donaghy served as an NBA referee for 13 years. He was a respected figure in the league, having officiated in over 700 regular season games before submitting his resignation.
After 22 years as a referee, Mendy Rudolph became the first official to officiate in over 2,000 games. During that time he officiated in 2112 games, a record he held until his retirement. He was the first referee to officiate at the 2000 Games at the time. In addition, Rudolph managed eight NBA All-Star Games and refereed for 22 consecutive NBA Finals. Mendy Rudolph collaborated with Dolph Sheyes, who was appointed as referee-in-chief in 1966, as the league’s official observer. As head of officials, he was in charge of the referee’s system, methods and interpretation of the rules. Mandy is one of a select few executives to be honored by the Rudolph Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
During the first half of the 20th century NBA, Joseph Crawford was a basketball referee who officiated in the NBA between 1977 and 2016. As an official in the NBA, Crawford had the number 17 and was considered one of the strongest referees. He also gained a reputation for being an able appraiser of technical fouls committed by his teammates and coaches.
Joey Crawford started his NBA career in 1977. He contributed there for 39 years till 2016. During his NBA career, he officiated in 2,561 regular season games. In addition, Joy holds the record for officiating in 374 playoff games in NBA history.
Joy has refereed for 70 years and is the only referee to officiate in 50 NBA Finals games. In addition, Crawford officiated in the 1986, 1992, and 2000 NBA Star Games. He completed his education at Cardinal O’Hara High School; He currently resides in Pennsylvania.
Richard W. Baveta (born December 10, 1939) is an American retired professional basketball referee for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since making his debut in 1975, he has never missed a scheduled game and holds the league record for most games umpired. His game at Washington on April 12, 2013 was his 2,600th consecutive game as an NBA official.
A professional basketball referee in the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association for 29 years, Earl “Yogi” Strome is best known for his time as a referee in the National Basketball Association. As a referee, Earl began his career with the NBA in 1957. After serving for 12 years, he left. And then, from 1973–90, he spent 17 more years with the NBA. In addition, he was also an ABA referee and contributed from there from 1969–72.
Darrell Garretson paved the way for many other great officers to come after him. Not only was he one of the greatest NBA referees and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he also later remained the NBA’s supervisor for officials for 17 years. Overall, he served the league for 44 years in both of his charges, officiating in 1798 regular season games, 269 NBA playoff games, and 39 NBA Finals games throughout his career. Eight years after his passing, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2016.
Mauer Jr. debuted as an official in the National Basketball Association during the 1986–87 season. Since the start of his NBA career, Mauer has officiated in 1,717 regular season and 229 playoff games. During the 2017–18 NBA season, Mauer wore uniform number 41. Mauer began his illustrious career with the NBA in 1986. As one of the top ten best NBA referees of all time, he deserves the first spot. In his career as a National Baseball Association referee, he officiated in 1,717 regular season games.
Danny Crawford (born November 23, 1953) is a retired American professional basketball referee in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Crawford made his 23rd consecutive NBA Finals appearance in Game 1 of the 2017 Finals. Crawford has been an NBA referee since 1985 and has officiated at least one NBA Finals game in each season since 1995.
Crawford grew up in East Garfield Park on the West Side of Chicago. He attended Ryerson Elementary School and was a basketball star at the now-closed Craigiear High School. In 1976, Crawford received a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. As a guard, Crawford played hoops for NEIU, averaging 18 points as a sophomore.
Delaney is a former state trooper who worked undercover in New Jersey and is a National Basketball Association referee. He was an NBA official from the 1987–88 NBA season to the 2010–11 NBA season. Following graduation, Delaney began his National Baseball Association career in 1987.
He served there for 24 years of his career. In 1998, Delaney was appointed to the NBA All-Star Games, in which he wore uniform number 26. Needless to say, he was behind, making this one of the most popular jersey numbers ever.
As a basketball referee in the NBA, Richard F. Powers served from 1956 to 1979. Twenty-five games of their NBA Finals, including triple-overtime Game 5 against the Celtics in the 1976 NBA Finals, were televised along with all three star games. As a referee, he began his NBA career in 1956. And he served there till 1979. Powers completed his graduation from St. John’s University. In addition, he also served as a Minor League Baseball umpire in the Eastern League.