It seems like whenever the NBA’s referees make headlines it’s never a good thing. I would imagine there are far less gratifying jobs, but cannot think of any at the moment (maybe?). In the midst of the biggest month of NCAA Basketball of the year, referees seem to always be involved, like it or not. Whether it’s a quick “5-second count” or time clock issues, basketball officials are always under scrutiny.
Since the whole Tim Donaghy NBA referee betting scandal, questions have always arisen about the (im)partiality of the profession. Those looking to verify the “corrupt-institution” argument, here’s some more ammo for your arsenal:
Here’s the lowdown. On January 24th, 2010, the Houston Rockets played the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. Former LA Laker/Assistant Coach, now tasked with trying to right the ship in ‘Sota as their skipper, Kurt Rambis disagreed with a foul call in the first half. He asked for clarification from referee Spooner. Spooner said he would take a look at the call again at halftime.
Enter AP journalist Jon Krawczynsi. After allegedly hearing the exchange and believing Spooner admitted to the first call being incorrect, Krawczysnski claims Spooner made a comment in the area of making a later “make-up” call. He went on to tweet, “Ref Bill Spooner told Rambis he’d ‘get it back’ after a bad call. Then he made an even worse call on Rockets. That’s NBA officiating folks.”
Whether or not any of this is true may be of more importance that just the NBA-refereeing credibility. The defamation lawsuit is now at hand as Spooner is looking for compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 and injunctive relief against the still posted tweet. Issues for trial include not only the truthfulness behind the statement (as truth is an absolute defense) but also whether an NBA referee is a “public figure.” As public figures have a higher standard, “actual malice” must be proven for defamation, Spooner spends time in his complaint arguing he is a private individual.
Would you bet on this one being a winner? Think the other NBA refs are?