The NBA is promoting one of its most experienced referees, Jason Phillips, to run its replay center, the league will announce Friday. Phillips will replace veteran executive Joe Borgia, who will transition to a role overseeing the implementation of the new coach’s challenge for the upcoming season.
“We see this as a win-win and part of our leadership succession process,” said Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations. “The coaches’ challenge a significant initiative and we can have Joe focus on that while he helps Jason with the transition. Joe brings a lot of experience and knowledge and there will be some sticky scenarios with the coaches’ challenge.” Phillips’ move will mean another experienced referee leaving the floor. He has worked 19 seasons and eight Finals, officiating two Finals games this past season. Over the last several years a number of the most veteran officials have retired and Phillips is the second to move to a high-level administrative role, the other being former top-rated official Monty McCutchen.
As a Mexican woman officiating an Olympic qualifying tournament in Canada five years ago, she was partnered with NBA referee Lauren Holtkamp and realized her own career had a ceiling. “I thought, Oh, she’s an NBA ref and I can’t do that because I’m Mexican and I don’t live in the States,” said Hortencia Sanchez-Carrizales, who is one of three international referees among the 11 hired by the G-League for the upcoming season. “Now I’m here and I can say to my friends and family and other officials I’ve worked with back home that there is an opportunity. It’s really amazing.”
Monty McCutchen is proud of the progress, although in the end, he’s even more impressed with the increasing quality of his officiating group. “I’m not interested in filling quotas,” he said. “I am interested in anyone that earns a spot through their work having the availability and opportunity to maximize their dreams, their hopes and their skill sets. Once you open the doors and your own eyes and your own experience to what great refereeing looks like, you see all this rich, incredible, available talent at your disposal from different countries and different genders and that is exciting because now we’ve opened an entire pool all over the world of people that can serve the game of basketball.”