Jerry Sloan Rumors
After 39 years as an NBA referee, Bavetta announced this week he’ll be retiring at age 74. Jazz fans will need to find someone else to upbraid. But they’ll never forget him. He’s the referee that waved off Jazz guard Howard Eisley’s 3-point basket in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Chicago, ruling it was after the shot clock had expired. He later allowed Bulls’ guard Ron Harper’s 2-point basket to count, though that time the shot clock had expired in the fourth quarter of a tie game. Bavetta was also on the court when Michael Jordan bumped Bryon Russell before scoring the game-winning basket. Conspiracy wonks have been analyzing it ever since. So naturally you would think Jerry Sloan would be doing cartwheels. His officiating nemesis is history. “I thought he was a good ref,” the former Jazz coach said this week. “Anybody who can stay with something that long has to be good at what they do; those guys are hard to come by. He stood the test of time; it’s not an easy job.”
Take Sloan off the list of people wanting Bavetta indicted. “I think everybody has a chance of missing calls; nobody bats a thousand in this league, in coaching as well. But I think his interest was in doing the best he could for the league and everyone involved,” Sloan said. “I never felt anything malicious about the calls. After the game was over and you see what’s going on, they do a pretty darn good job.”
The catcalls were never personal to Bavetta, though Jazz fans wanted them to be. Sloan said he didn’t think Bavetta’s calls/no-calls in 1998 were driven by an agenda and he doesn’t dwell on it. “I think you’ve got to put it behind you and go about your business. To be so concerned about something like that — you have no control over it whatsoever — so you just have to hope your team gets the benefit of the doubt,” Sloan said.