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Referees Rumors


Tony Brown: As I watch the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns play for an NBA championship, I can’t help but revisit this stage of the season a year ago. It was Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat. LeBron James against Jimmy Butler. The NBA bubble. It was also, in Game 4, the moment I reached the pinnacle of my professional career. After 19 years as an NBA referee, after over 1,000 regular-season and 35 playoff games, I stepped on the court to work my first Finals.
Tony Brown: Most eyes at tipoff were, I’m sure, focused on the star players who are the driving force in this league. I’m sure back home in Atlanta the eyes of my wife and my three kids were focused on me as I finally got the opportunity to work the NBA’s premier event. It was career validation: I was considered one of the best referees in the world. When this season began, my goal was to experience that exhilarating moment again. But life threw me a curveball. Pancreatic cancer. Stage 4.
Tony Brown: The first sign my body wasn’t right came after a sushi run while in Miami working the April 8 Heat-Lakers game. Stomach pain led to a doctor’s visit, and I was told it was probably a case of food poisoning. But the stomach pain lingered through the following week and my wife Tina insisted on a follow-up doctor’s visit. When I returned to Atlanta, I scheduled an appointment that turned out to be far from routine. A blood test revealed an abnormal alkaline blood number of 355 — over five times higher than in December when it registered at 66 during my preseason physical. ‘You’re healthy, so I’m not overly concerned,’ the doctor told me. ‘But let’s do some scans just to be safe.’