Bob Delaney, retired as an NBA official and a New Jersey police officer — now serves as the league’s VP of referee development and performance. And while he runs the video in conference rooms at the hotel to point out corrections, he also works on a side of officiating that you might not want to see — that they are human.
Delaney made his reputation as a cop who went undercover to infiltrate the mob, but in his role now, he strives to inspire the referees. “Because I live in New York, my wife and I go to the theater all the time and I saw “Hamilton,” Delaney said. “When I was watching and hearing the songs there, it related so many things that I believe not only in life but to refereeing. … We created a conversation. How does this relate to us? My big belief is that we learn through emotion and you have to have ‘edutainment’— you’ve got to educate and entertain at the same time. Otherwise we’re just going to go through a routine.”
NBA referees will be cracking down this season on the kind of hits to the groin area that resulted in Draymond Green’s suspension during the NBA Finals. They also will more closely monitor traveling after complaints from coaches that players are getting away with too many steps on the perimeter. The referees were informed and instructed about those items this week during their preseason meetings and training camp.
If the NBA decided one day to replace human referees with technology, don’t expect to hear a complaint out of Steph Curry. “I would love that,” Curry admitted, during a Q&A at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last week.