The NBA and its referees have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and not a moment too soon. Providing, of course, the NBA decides to put on a season sometime between now and February.
Should that season turn on, though, the league will be spared the use of replacement refs, due to the new agreement. And though you may have issues with how the NBA game is called, this is a very, very good thing.
If you remember the initial few weeks of the 1995-96 season, then you remember a whole lot of calls gone wrong. Then again, if you remember the beginning of the 2010-11 season, or any other season since the NBA moved to three referees some 20 years ago, you'll likely remember a whole lot of calls that went terribly, terribly wrong.
The 1995-96 season, though, was different in the way that it started its run with replacement referees, as the typical NBA refs were locked out by the NBA during a collective bargaining agreement impasse. And that run did a lot to teach us about how tough it is to call an NBA game. Not that the usual veteran NBA refs could be replaced in an instant, because the replacements were routinely poor in comparison, but because the drop-off wasn't that noticeable between the best of the best, and the worst of the worst. It's an impossible game to get right, and calls are going to go wrong.
Should there be an NBA season in 2011-12, though, we'll be saved the impact of replacement refs, because the NBA and its referees got their acts together. I'll let Woj take it from here:
After a difficult beginning to talks in January between the league and referees, the two sides — led by NBA commissioner David Stern and union executive director Lee Seham — hammered out a deal over the past two months. The NBRA had filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board in February, citing "the league's refusal to negotiate with the union concerning non-economic issues."
The referee's union had hired Seham, an experienced labor attorney, as executive director, and his first meeting with Stern on Jan. 24 turned acrimonious, according to union memos obtained by Yahoo! Sports. The memos described an alleged "obscene expression" by Stern directed at NBRA reps.
You can read more about that distasteful back and forth in Adrian's column from last April, and while we don't know the details of the new agreement (it's a five-year deal), clearly good sense has prevailed.
At least in this, much smaller, locker room. Certainly not in the one that the NBA's players get dressed in.