I was going another direction with the weekend thoughts, but Ric Bucher at ESPN wrote what I think is one of his best pieces in a long time and I'd rather discuss that.
First, read the piece. It covers the refs top to bottom--not just the scandal, but all the things falling apart in the officials' world right now. Here are a couple question I have after reading:
--Do you have much sympathy for the officials and what they say is their plight right now?
--Do you have much confidence in David Stern and the league office or is this just one more example of shortcomings hiding barely beneath the veneer of the autocracy?
--Do you see any possible solutions that would alleviate the rift between the officials and the league but still allow for checks and balances to keep people honest and in line?
One of the things I watched during Summer League was the behavior of the referees. The first thing I noticed is that I wasn't all that impressed with most of the folks officiating those games. It really looked like the game was moving too fast for them, even at that level. There were also referee supervisors attending at every game. They would come down during timeouts and huddle up with the game officials. My basic observation is that they never, ever looked happy...not even for an instant. The tenor of the conversations looked negative as did the facial expressions of the supervisors when they weren't down on the floor. I know that criticism is part of their job but I couldn't help but get the impression that this was not a happy bunch of people. Even in Summer League the stress was through the roof.
It must be a hard job, I'm sure. But at the same time I don't favor any system that puts even more control in the hands of the refs. They're complaining that the league looks over their shoulder too much but the answer to that can't be more autonomy on their parts. It must be a matter of what kind of supervision, over what kind of issues, and by whom. At this point it seems the "by whom" is as important as anything to them, which is exactly where they'll reach the sticking point with the Stern regime. I don't foresee a happy ending to this story in the near future.