Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Replacement refs to start season

Updated: September 30, 2009, 3:01 PM ET

Replacement refs to start season

Comment Print Share
By Chris Sheridan

The NBA told its teams in a memo Tuesday that it was proceeding forward with plans to use replacement officials in the upcoming season after referees shot down the latest offer from the league.

Locked out NBA referees voted 43-14 to decline the league's proposal, and a changed vote by one member of the union's executive board played a major role in scuttling the deal, learned Tuesday.

The vote took place Sunday in Washington as the league's 57 referees met to review a new offer made by the league last Friday.

Sources told that executive board members Joey Crawford, Bob Delaney and Bill Spooner initially voted to accept the proposal, while officials Steve Javie and Bennett Salvatore gave it a thumbs-down.

But Spooner then switched his vote, the sources said, and the entire body of refs voted 43-14 to decline -- a sequence of events that prompted lead negotiator Lamell McMorris to announce Monday that he was withdrawing from the talks.

Negotiations for the union are now in the hands of McMorris' associate, Brian Lam, and as of 8 p.m. ET Tuesday there had been no further discussions between the league and the union. also learned details of the concessions made by the NBA in its most recent proposal, made at a secret negotiating session held in Philadelphia last Friday that included deputy commissioner Adam Silver representing the NBA.

The league agreed to cut the number of game assignments given to D-League and WNBA referees from 75 to 50 (it had previously asked for 100), and it made changes to its severance proposal that would have allowed six current referees to retire over the next two seasons with severance checks of $575,000 rather than the $350,000 previously proposed.

Also, referees with fewer than 10 years of service who chose to retire during the proposed two-year labor agreement would be eligible for severance payments from $50,000 to $100,000. The NBA's earlier offers on severance payments excluded that group.

"On Friday of last week, we reached an agreement in principal on the terms of a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with the negotiators for the National Basketball Referees Association," the league told teams in a memo that was obtained by and other news organizations.

"On Sunday night, the membership of the NBRA voted to reject that agreement. As a result, we have no expectation of concluding a timely labor contract with the NBRA, and are proceeding with replacement referees."

The memo continued:

"The agreement in principal reached with the NBRA's negotiators would have resulted in overall savings in the NBA's referee program costs next year of approximately 3.5 percent, plus additional savings from agreed-upon attrition. Modest increases in referee salaries (by 2 percent over two years) would have been offset by decreases in health and welfare benefits, air travel and per diem policies, and playoff compensation. In addition, structural changes would have been made to referee retirement benefits, including converting the existing defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan.

"This is not the first time that commitments made by the NBRA's negotiators were not met. Earlier in the negotiations, NBRA representatives reneged on previously agreed-upon concessions in the areas of pension, severance, and training opportunities for D-League officials," the NBA memo stated.

The contract between the league and its officials expired Sept. 1. The NBA held referees' training camp with replacements last weekend, and three of those officials are now expected to be on the court when preseason play begins Thursday with Denver's game at Utah.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kenyon Martin: Games With Replacement Refs Will Be 'Terrible'

Kenyon Martin: Games With Replacement Refs Will Be 'Terrible'

Kenyon MartinDENVER -- Kenyon Martin can joke a little about replacement officials. Overall, though, he doesn't think it's too funny.

In an interview with FanHouse, Martin said he believes games will be "terrible'' with the replacements.

"I joked the other day with [Tim Grgurich] and Jamahl Mosley,'' the Denver Nuggets feisty forward said about talking to a pair of assistant coaches. "I'm going to get suspended in the first month of the season. I'm going to have 15 technicals in the first month just for the simple fact [replacement officials] don't know how I run my mouth. They don't know how I approach the game.''

They might find out in a hurry. Martin and his Nuggets play Thursday at Utah in the NBA preseason opener and first game using replacement referees.

Martin isn't too happy the NBA hasn't been able to reach an agreement with officials over a new contract. With officials not agreeing to some monetary concessions, the league has locked them out and brought in replacements.

"If they want the extra benefits, I don't know why they can't get it,'' Martin said. "Give [the officials that] in order to keep the game the same way. Because the game is going to be terrible with those replacements.

"It will be terrible. I believe guys will get more technicals. But that's probably what [the NBA is] looking for, more money. There are going to be more ejections. Tempers are going to be even worse. Attitudes are going to be even worse.''

Kenyon MartinMartin was told the NBA donates money from fines to charities so the league wouldn't make more money off technicals and ejections. But that didn't slow down Martin.

"It's going to be pretty bad,'' Martin said of NBA games. "The replacement refs, there's no way they're used to the pace of the game. ... The guys, except the rookies, they know the guys [in the NBA]. They know how to call the game if I'm playing, if Chauncey [Billups, a Denver guard] is playing, if [Allen Iverson, a Memphis guard] is playing. They know because we've been around.

"They know how we can talk to certain refs. Certain guys know me. I don't mean no harm sometimes. I might get out of line sometimes. But, for the most part, I get a little leeway. But with the [replacement officials], I don't have that leeway. ... You know how you can approach certain refs, what you can say to certain refs.''

Despite any leeway, Martin has incurred many fines, ejections and suspensions over his nine-year career. He had 10 technicals last season, five shy of the number that results in a one-game suspension.

Teammate Carmelo Anthony reached 15 last season, but NBA rules did not call for a suspension because No. 15 came in Denver's final regular-season game. But Anthony isn't worried about replacement officials."To me, I think the players should just, at least in the first four to six games, not worry about it and just play through it."
-- George Karl

"It's refs,'' Anthony said. "They'll learn the game. They watch films. Some refs, they've reffed [the NBA] game before. We got to play. They got to ref.''

Nuggets coach George Karl also isn't getting too bent out of shape about the replacements.

"I think there will be just more emotion in the game, more verbal confrontation of calls,'' Karl said. "To me, I think the players should just, at least in the first four to six games, not worry about it and just play through it. Understand we'll get good whistles and we'll probably get some bad whistles. ... Coaches think refereeing is bad no matter how good it is.''

Karl sees a positive in that some replacements who do well later could become regular officials. Still, he's hoping "sooner than later we'll have the first-class guys back in the league.''

Until then, Nuggets guard Anthony Carter believes there could be some rough patches.

Follow NBA FanHouse "It's always going to be tough when you have a whole new set of refs,'' Carter said. "The other refs kind of know what other players do and what their moves are. Who's flopping? It's going to be a big challenge for them. ... They're going to be cursed out a little bit. They just have to have thick skin. They're going to miss calls, and we're going to be complaining. But that's part of the job.''

Martin sure is complaining. He's pointing a finger at NBA commissioner David Stern to get the lockout settled.

"To get [the officials] back, it's ain't on nobody else,'' Martin said. "It's on David Stern to get it done. Ain't nobody else but on him to get it done.''

Former Replacement Official Says Refs Will Be Tested

Former Replacement Official Says Refs Will Be Tested

NBA referee uniformBert Smith has been there, done that, so when an NBA replacement official calls him this week to ask for advice, on what to expect from star players and volatile coaches, on what it's really going to be like doing the games, they would be wise to listen closely.

It will range from obstacle course to gauntlet.

Smith was a young, promising official working college basketball games in the Big 12 and Conference USA when the NBA plucked him to be a replacement in 1995 during the last referee union lockout.

He worked 16 games that year, including a Sonics-Pacers game Nov. 18 in Indianapolis when he ejected then Seattle coach George Karl, who kept riding him over a call he didn't like, got a technical foul, then drop kicked the ball into the stands to show his displeasure. Smith tossed him.

"George was the only guy that year I had to eject,'' said Smith, now a veteran NCAA official who works mostly in the Southeastern Conference. "It's going to be interesting this time. It's not going be be easy. The replacements have to realize they are going to be tested, really tested. They have to understand that Kobe (Bryant) wants to be yelling at (regular official Steve) Javie, not a replacement guy. Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers (coaches of the Lakers and Celtics) don't want replacements doing their big game.''

The NBA will start the exhibition schedule with replacements this week in Utah when the Jazz play the Nuggets, now coached by the same George Karl. His Seattle team in 1995-96 won 64 games. His Denver team played in the conference final last spring, and should be even better this time.

"I don't remember (kicking the ball and being ejected in '95). I'm getting too old to remember,'' Karl said earlier this week. "Go back and get the video. I've gotten thrown out in Indiana a lot.''

Smith wasn't asked by the NBA to be a replacement this time. He left the NBA's developmental program several years ago, deciding to focus on the college game and his other career. He knows several college officials who rejected requests this time from the NBA, but he also knows some who accepted and will be among those starting the season.

"It's a touchy situation (for guys with NBA aspirations). If you're asked and tell them no, it's like saying, `I don't want this job interview.' And they just say, `if you don't want to help us out now, then why should we help you out later?''' Smith said. "If you don't come through for the boss, the boss is going to remember.''

Despite the trials, Smith still looks back at '95 as a positive experience for him. Until December of '95, they were working with two-man crews instead of today's standard three-man crews, which automatically made the job tougher.

They were easy targets for fans, players, coaches and broadcasters who didn't like the way games were going.

"We were just a means to the end for the NBA, but I have no regrets at all. For the most part, guys (players and coaches) were respectful. But it's really a no-win situation. We missed calls. Games weren't officiated as well, but regular officials miss calls, too. They (players and coaches) will want to see what you're made of, what kind of intestinal fortitude you have. All you can do is be honest with them when you miss a call.''

Sunday, September 27, 2009

As fighting increases, so will refs' use of the instigator rule

As Damien Cox pointed out last week, the "sweeping changes" concerning fighting that many expected after the death of Whitby Dunlops defenseman Don Sanderson last season never came to pass. The NHL's general managers supported an extra 10-minute misconduct penalty for staged fights, but the NHLPA's lack of support meant it would have never make it through the competition committee.

The Toronto Star recently confronted players on the Toronto Maple Leafs, who clearly have muscled-up in the offseason, about the rise in fighting and the NHLPA's decision not to attempt to quell it:

Cox pointed out that exhibition games this fall have averaged two fights, with the Leafs averaging four fights per game. "Everybody agrees on the players' side that fighting is part of the game. That's where we stand," said Matt Stajan(notes), the Leafs' NHLPA rep. "The whole staged fighting (issue), we don't believe it happens the way people think."

Rather than cut back on the need for enforcers - and a decline in fighting that would trickle down to the junior ranks - a team like Toronto is adding more muscle as it attempts to fight, literally, its way back into a playoff spot.

The "trickle-down goon decline" theory is flawed. If fighting opponents want to see its frequency severely decline -- keeping in mind that fighting will never truly "leave the game" -- then it needs to trickle up. It'll take a cultural shift in every level of hockey in North America; a fundamental, generational change that can't be artificially expedited by draconian measures in the NHL alone. (Not that it's a change we're eager to witness.)

As the NHLPA's decision not to support the staged fighting rule shows: It's up to the players.

If staged fighting hasn't been addressed, it appears the current scourge of the NHL -- fights after clean hits -- will be dealt with by more consistent enforcement of the instigator rule.

According to new NHL director of officiating Terry Gregson, the instigator will be enforced more often.

From the Canadian Press (via Kukla):

Gregson said it should be called more, particularly in cases where a player is clearly retaliating for a hit on himself or a teammate by calling an opponent out for a fight. "Now, even when there are clean hits, there seems to be retaliation going on," he said.

Granted, there needs to be some respect for the Code; we still say Dion Phaneuf(notes) should have answered for taking out a top-six forward on the New York Islanders in a preseason game.

But the constant, misguided retribution of fights after good hits was an infuriating trend last season, and the offending parties sometimes wouldn't be assessed an instigator for their rather blatant actions.

It's a welcome change, as long as enforcement of the instigator doesn't go overboard.

Sean O'Donnell discusses suspension (NHL)

Somehow I missed this story? I've always liked O'Donnell- classy player.

see video here

O'Donnell discusses suspension

| Comments (7)

| ShareThis

After practice today, Sean O'Donnell discussed, in detail, the
incident in Kansas City with the Islanders' Matt Martin that led to
O'Donnell's suspension (three preseason games, two regular-season
games). O'Donnell explains his side of the incident, and what led up to

O'DONNELL: ....That's the main thing, the leading up to it. You look
at an isolated play and it doesn't look good, but when you're watching
the game... They had talked us about ..head shots.' Not even necessarily
elbows, but just shots, unnecessary blows to the head when the guy is
vulnerable. I felt like there were a couple times earlier in the game
where they had some guys, who were trying to make a name -- whatever,
they're trying to make the team -- but I felt like Drew and some of our
other players had targets on their backs. They were hitting them pretty
hard. They were legal, but they were hard, hard hits.

....Nothing was really said. A couple times, I spoke to one of the
guys and challenged him to a fight. Raitis challenged a guy and
obviously Westgarth was doing his best. (The Islanders) didn't really
want to. Then I saw Martin hit a couple people. Like I said, not dirty
but questionable, enough to raise your eyebrows. Then I saw him coming
on Drew and I yelled over, ..Heads up.' Drew got out of the way, but I
felt that at the last second, instead of just missing his check, he
came up with his shoulder and clipped Drew in the chin. I saw Drew's
head go back and so I went over there.

....I probably should have given him a little slash on the ankles and
then fought him, but I didn't. I reacted. There's a part of me that
feels kind of paternal toward Drew. Maybe I overreacted a little bit,
but I went over there and I wanted to initiate a fight. I gave him a
cross-check, and in my mind I gave him a cross-check right by the
shoulder, in the upper chest. I skated quite a ways. I skated probably
15, 20 feet. When I did hit him with the cross-check, my momentum
carried him over and that's what knocked him over and he crumpled down
to the ice. You can see where I hit him, and where he ended up was
about 10 feet away. So it was more like, I hit him and we kind of slid.

....There was no film. I felt that, at no time, did my stick make
contact with any part of his head area. The refs felt that when I hit
him, it (came up) and I got him. There's no tape. The refs felt it was
one way and I felt it was the other way.''

Helene Elliott of the Times relayed Dean Lombardi's reaction to
O'Donnell, in which Lombardi expressed disappointment that O'Donnell
would lose two games' worth of salary and jokingly hinted that he
wished he could pay O'Donnell to be a scout in those games.

....How about an extension for a year?'' O'Donnell said with a laugh. ....I'm not ready to start scouting yet.''

Monday, September 21, 2009

Locked-Out Wife: Stern Doesn't Appreciate NBA Referees

Locked-Out Wife: Stern Doesn't Appreciate NBA Referees

After failing to negotiate a new contract with the referees union, the NBA locked out its officials Friday and began making plans to start the season with a group of replacement referees.

The league has been asking for significant concessions from the union, most notably a reduction in pension benefits. The league has said that it wants the union to accept a deal that is more in line with the compensation awarded its office employees and administrative staff.

In responses to the league's demands, Julie Davis, the wife of veteran NBA official Marc Davis, wrote this letter to the National Basketball Referees Association executive board to provide a family's perspective.

FanHouse obtained a copy of the letter from the NBRA.

"These past few weeks have been a very trying time for our family, as I am sure they have been for the families for all of the 57 NBA referees. The stress of worrying about a lockout has been, at times, overwhelming. We have three small children to feed, clothe, and educate. Like most American families, we have a mortgage and bills to pay. These bills do not know what the word "lockout" means.

"What has been most disheartening, however, is accepting the fact that the sacrifices that all of our families make year in and year out appear to be meaningless to the NBA and David Stern. The 'offers' made by the NBA are insulting to our families.

"The NBA has repeatedly stated that their goal this year is to bring the referees compensation and benefits more in line with the rest of the NBA office employees and its administrative staff. But referees are not office and administrative staff. They do not wake up at home each morning and see their kids off to school before heading to a job from which they get to return home each night, if not for dinner, then to tuck their kids in and kiss them good night. They do not get to sleep in their own beds with their spouses by their sides.

"While I don't know for certain, I would guess that most of the NBA office employees do not miss their kid's school plays, parent-teacher conferences, sports practices and games, graduations, Christmas mornings, and other holidays. Their husbands and wives do not have to explain to their children each morning and night for 10 months of the year that daddy or mommy will not be coming home again today and won't be home again for the next ten days either. I can tell you from first-hand experience that three, four and five year olds do not get that concept very well. All of this is not to diminish the value of the NBA office and administrative staff. They obviously play a crucial role in the day-to-day workings of the League. But in reality the jobs of an office worker and an NBA referee are not the same. Comparing the two is not comparing apples to apples, but instead it is trying to make an apple an orange.

"By even making the comparison in the first place, David Stern runs the risk of changing a 'craft' into a job. Though the NBA office staff is some of the best in the world, you can find anyone to do a job, not everyone is a true craftsman. The men and women who work this job are true craftsmen. Though frequently criticized by fans and the media, they are the best in the world at what they do and I am proud to be the wife of one. They cannot be replaced by placing an ad in the classifieds and picking out a new hire from the folks who line up at the door. If they could, then perhaps the deal the NBA is offering makes sense.

"It does not, however, make sense given the sacrifices our families make every day. I would even go so far as to say that the sacrifice we make is larger than that that made of anyone in the NBA, including the players. Whatever the public perception may be, the referees do not have huge contracts, fly on private planes, or get to work half of their games at home. They are regular people, who trek around from city to city, airport to airport, arena to arena, and practice their craft to provide for their families.

"In any given season, we are lucky if my husband works three home games in a 75-game schedule. We are lucky if he is home more than five 24-hour periods a month. Who else on the NBA staff can say they do the same? Players can't. David Stern can't. Office staff can't, nor can anyone else who works for the NBA. Referees are unique in what they give to and what they give up for the game.

"And so what are all of these sacrifices for? Why are we missing holidays together and games and school events? So that the NBA can tell all of us that our sacrifice is meaningless and that it is worth no more to them than what the office worker, who jumps on and off the train, each day does? That seems ludicrous by any rational measure.

"It was not my dream to be an NBA referee. It was not our kid's dream to have a father who is one either. But it is a dream we are fully committed to supporting because it is my husband's dream. I take on single parenthood and being a 'referee widow' because I love my husband and believe in him and his dream. All that has happened with this contract just has me questioning whether the NBA realizes the sacrifices 57 families of their employees make to continue to put out the 'best product in the world.'"

Redskins Don't Like Being Booed by Their 'Dim Wit' Fans

Redskins Don't Like Being Booed by Their 'Dim Wit' Fans

Jim ZornThe Redskins have a request for the fans who sat through their 9-7 victory against the Rams on Sunday. They'd like them to stop booing, no matter how many times uncreative offensive playcalling causes their offense to stall inside the red zone. An understandable request, but they may get a more positive response if they stop calling their fans "dim wits" when making it in the future.

That's what linebacker Robert Henson called the booers in a post to his Twitter account following the contest.
"All you fake half hearted Skins fan can .. I won't go there but I dislike you very strongly, don't come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!!"
It's a bit confusing thanks to a missing comma, but we'll assume that he's actually calling the fans dim wits as opposed to calling himself and his teammates dim wits. A later tweet cleared up any confusion, however.
"The question is who are you to say you know what's best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds"
Criticize Henson if you wish, but he knows what its like to watch the Redskins sputter their way to victory. He didn't play a single snap on Sunday, which meant he had the same vantage point as those who expressed their displeasure.

There is one significant difference, of course. Henson didn't pay his hard-earned money for the chance to watch the 'Skins struggle. No, Henson got paid for being there, which makes it much easier than, say, working at McDonald's. Other Redskins, like Chris Cooley, also criticized the fans for booing during the game but were able to get their point across without insulting them.

Henson apologized on Monday, reports Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog, and his teammate DeAngelo Hall said that Henson isn't established enough to be sounding off on proper fan behavior. Hall, who has been around the block a lot more often than Henson, offered his own opinion about the boobirds.
"I'd have booed us too," Hall said. "I felt like booing us, with that [nonsense] we put out there. It was a win, but it was [nonsense]."
So, should the fans have booed yesterday? The feeling here is that when you buy the ticket, you also buy the right to express your opinion, without obscenity of course, whether it is positive or negative. The Redskins failed to execute yesterday, but it didn't seem to be from a lack of trying nor from a lack of caring about the outcome. That said, Daniel Snyder's team has eaten up a lot of goodwill over the last few years which probably contributed to the catcalls and it's hard to blame anyone for wanting to see more from their team on the field.

Isles' Morency suspended for 8 games

Monday, 09.21.2009 / 4:33 PM / News
TORONTO -- New York Islanders' forward Pascal Morency has been suspended for the remainder of the pre-season and five regular season games as the result of a game misconduct penalty in a pre-season game against the Calgary Flames, September 17, the National Hockey League announced today.

At 5:35 of the second period, Morency was assessed a Game Misconduct under Rule 70.2 for leaving his players' bench on a legal line change for the purpose of starting an altercation. The rule states:

Legal Line Change – A player who has entered the game on a legal line change or legally from the penalty bench (penalty time has expired) who starts an altercation maybe subject to discipline in accordance with Rule 29 – Supplementary Discipline.

Morency, who has already served two games of the suspension, will miss the remaining three games on the Islanders' pre-season schedule (Sept. 22 vs. Los Angeles and Sept. 23 and 29 against New Jersey) as well as five regular season games.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley for Season

Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley for Season

After putting up with his antics for the past several months, the Cubs have finally had enough of Milton Bradley. Sunday, it was announced that general manager Jim Hendry has suspended the mercurial outfielder for the remainder of the 2009 season.

In a season chock full of controversy -- which isn't anything new for Bradley -- everything came to a head Sunday morning when Bradley dissed the Cubs, Cubs fans and the entire city of Chicago. This following a game in which Bradley pulled himself out of the lineup, claiming his knee was too sore to continue, and then basically ignored probing reporters after the game.
"The last few days became too much for me to tolerate," Hendry said.

"I'm certainly not going to let our great fans become excuses," Hendry said. "I'm not going to tolerate [Bradley] not being able to answer questions from the media respectably."
Bradley has been a colossal bust this season. After the Cubs traded Mark DeRosaand Jason Marquis to shed payroll, the Cubs signed Bradley to a three-year contract worth $30 million. He's rewarded them with a .257 batting average, 12 home runs, 40 RBI, a .775 OPS and spotty, at best, defense. 

This isn't even mentioning things that stats can't measure, such as the negative impact he may have had in the clubhouse. He had a dust-up with manager Lou Piniella earlier this season and has constantly found ways to make himself the center of (negative) attention when talking to the media. 

For now, the circus is over in Wrigleyville. Of course, the Cubs are stuck with Bradley for two more seasons, as there is no chance anyone takes him off their hands in a trade.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Delonte West Arrested on Gun Charge

Delonte West Arrested on Gun Charge

Delonte WestDelonte West has a whole new set of reasons you should get him his donuts.

The Washington Post reports that West was arrested Thursday night after being stopped on his three-wheeled motorcycle. He cut off a police officer and after being stopped, informed the arresting officer he had a gun in his waistband. After backup arrived, police actually found three weapons on his person. A second weapon was strapped to his leg, and another was in a guitar case strapped to his back.

Yes, just like in "Desperado."

All jokes aside, West was arrested on speeding and possession of a handgun charges. He was released on Friday of his own recognizance. No information was given as to the circumstances of why a starting two-guard of an NBA team who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder was driving a three wheeled motorcycle while carrying three guns.

It's too early to make assumptions for West's causation or circumstances, but the excessive nature of the charges (three weapons at once, including one in a guitar case? Really?) combined with the fact he sought clinical help for depression less than a year ago presents a scary set of circumstances surrounding his intent prior to his arrest.

We'll have to wait to see if any further consequences come from the arrest, be it legally, league-related, or team-enacted.

Fear the NBA Replacement Officials

Fear the NBA Replacement Officials

Dennis RodmanIn case anyone has forgotten, the last time the NBA started a season using replacement officials -- 1995-96 -- it was not a pretty sight.

It was close to chaos.

With the league Friday officially notifying the union that the lockout has begun, it's a certainty that the exhibition schedule -- and likely the regular season -- will start next month with new officials calling the games.

The league has lined up officials from the D-League to come to a revamped training camp next week. The preseason games start Oct. 1. The regular season doesn't begin until Oct. 27.

"It is extremely disappointing that the (union) has ignored the economic realities, rejected our offer, and left us no choice but to begin using replacement officials,'' said NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan in a statement.

The NBA used replacement officials for more than two months during the start of that 95-96 season. During that time, players, coaches and fans -- more than ever -- were criticizing officials, who struggled to control games from getting out of hand."The level of play will be severely affected with replacements. Every fan knows that. We hope the NBA knows that. I don't think that's something anyone wants to revisit.''
-- Lamell McMorris

Injuries, ejections and fines all went up during that period.

"From our perspective, the door is still open to talk, but it sure doesn't look good right now,'' said Lamell McMorris, lead negotiator for the union. "With replacements, everyone should be concerned.''

It's one reason veteran Shaquille O'Neal, who played with replacements refs during his fourth and final season in Orlando in 1995 -- urged both sides Friday to come to a quick agreement. O'Neal spoke at a charity function near his home in Orlando organized by his mother that raises money to provide nursing scholarships at various colleges and universities.

"The refs have been vital to this league for a long time. They should be treated accordingly,'' O'Neal said. "We need perfection out there. The league needs to get this done.''

The two sides already have agreed on many parameters of a new, two-year deal, including salary terms. But they are still far apart over reductions to the pension benefits and severance packages paid to retiring officials.

O'Neal had his right thumb broken in a surprisingly physical exhibition game that was officiated by replacement officials in 1995. It happened when Matt Geiger karate chopped him across the hands before he went up to dunk.

Also early that season (with replacements still on the job), Chris Webber missed a month with an injured shoulder that he hurt during a fight with Luc Longley; the league suspended 16 players for their role in a fight that occurred during a Kings/Pacers game; David Robinson was ejected during a game in which 22 fouls were called in one quarter alone.

Players were fined a combined $202,500 in November of 1995. By comparison, player fines totaled only $147,000 for the entire 1994-95 season.

"The level of play will be severely affected with replacements,'' said McMorris. "Every fan knows that. We hope the NBA knows that. I don't think that's something anyone wants to revisit.''
All 57 NBA officials met earlier this week in Chicago, and rejected a proposal by the league. They met again Thursday morning to discuss a counterproposal before dispersing to various parts of the country.

They originally were expected to reconvene Sunday for their annual training camp, but that camp, which will be rescheduled, will start only with replacement officials.

The contract between the union and the league officially expired Sept. 1. According to the league's statement Friday, referees were getting retirement bonuses of up to $575,000 on top of pensions, which is something it is trying to change in its next contract.

"We've got serious problems now,'' McMorris said. "But it's not one we can't get over. We're not in a shut-down mode. There still is dialogue going back and forth. No one has turned their phones off yet.''

Report: Mangini Fines Player Over Bottle Of Water

Report: Mangini Fines Player Over Bottle Of Water

Eric ManginiFirst there were the reports of Browns coach Eric Mangini requiring a mandatory bus trip to work for free at his football camp. There were the rumors that Mangini slapped a curfew on players attending "voluntary" offseason workouts. And there was the talk that Mangini screwed Josh Cribbs out of an agreed-to contract renegotiation.

Now Yahoo!'s Michael Silver is reporting that the Browns fined a player $1,701 for drinking a $3 bottle of water out of the hotel minibar during a road trip without paying for it at the front desk upon leaving.

If half of the reports about Mangini are true, you have to wonder why anyone would willingly choose to play for him. Coaches like Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells have managed to combine a team-first mentality with cold-blooded decision-making because they win. But Mangini has siphoned off the worst aspects of Belichick and Parcells without yet showing any signs that he has any of their coaching genius.

But all of these stories coming out will likely make Cleveland a black hole when it comes to signing free agents in the offseason. With so many other teams to choose from, why would a player want to deal with all the pettiness that comes with working for Mangini?

Fired ref on list for replacement training camp

Fired ref on list for replacement training camp

  • Print

NEW YORK (AP)—A referee who was previously fired by the NBA is among the group of replacements who have agreed to participate in training camp next week.

Michael Henderson is one of 44 who was sent an e-mail from the NBA’s referees operations department on Friday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the e-mail, which provides the replacements with details about the meetings, scheduled to begin Thursday in New York.

The NBA announced Friday that it would train replacement officials after failing to reach an agreement on a new contract with its referees union.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said he could not confirm any names on the list because the league hadn’t finalized it yet.

Henderson missed three games—the union called it a suspension—after he was called to league headquarters following an incorrect call in a game between Denver and the Lakers in February 2004. He mistakenly whistled a shot clock violation on a Denver shot that brushed the rim and was rebounded by a Nuggets player. The officials huddled and ruled it an inadvertent whistle, resulting in a jump ball. The Lakers won the tip and made the game-winning shot with 3.2 seconds left.

After the league publicly acknowledged the error, nearly all the officials responded the next night by wearing their jerseys inside-out with Henderson’s No. 62 on the back.

The league would not say why Henderson was fired.