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NBPA, NBRA set to meet in order to address tension between both parties

NBA players and officials have long had tumultuous relationships at times. Certain players are said to get “superstar” treatment, while others develop a reputation for complaining and get technicals more than other players.

This season, things seem to have escalated. There has already been a incident in which Shaun Livingston bumped heads with an official, resulting in the suspension of both parties for different amounts of time.

The referee and players associations recently decided that it was time to address the issue, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

In a recent two-hour-plus conversation at the National Basketball Players Association’s Manhattan offices, [Lee] Seham and [Michele] Roberts discussed several referee-player issues, including the NBRA’s belief that the league office has become too lenient in allowing players’ aggressive verbiage toward refs. Roberts countered that players are overwhelmingly disconcerted by what they believe is the disrespectful manner with which refs address players on the court.

The players, per Wojnarowski, cited one particular behavior that referees exhibit during games, and that the behavior only escalates tensions rather than calms things down.

For example, players expressed frustration with referees holding up a hand — like a stop sign — when approached on the floor. “Our players also complained about being ignored, told to ‘shut up,’ told to ‘move’ or, in extreme circumstances, hit with a technical,” Roberts said. “There have been four or five occasions when a player has gone to say, ‘Hey, what’s up with that?’ and the official holds his hand up like a stop sign, like, ‘I don’t have time to talk to you.’ … Lee [Seham] told me, ‘That’s what they’re trained to do.'”

While players often complain about foul calls and other infractions, referees shutting them down almost immediately can definitely cause problems. Often when referees take the time to listen to a player’s opinions, those situations never escalate to anything further than a heated discussion, even though a player may clearly disagree with an official.

It’s good that the two sides are coming together to speak about this. Per Wojnarowski, another meeting is planned between some players and officials to further discuss this issue.

Roberts and Seham agreed to put together an informal All-Star Weekend meeting in Los Angeles with a small group of top players and referees to talk directly about the state of referee and player relations.

It’ll be interesting to see what transpires from this these talks.