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Dick Bavetta isn't getting any love from the NBA

Jun 7, 2010, 11:00 AM EDT

Dick Bavetta is one of the biggest names in NBA officiating. That’s in part because of a race/kiss that Bavetta shared with one Charles Barkley at the 2007 All-Star Game, but also because at 70 years young, Bavetta is something of a marvel among the refereeing ranks. Getting up and down the court to call an NBA game isn’t quite running a marathon, but the fact that Bavetta continues to work games at his advanced age is pretty remarkable nonetheless.

There’s just one thing: Bavetta isn’t calling games right now, and he won’t be until next season. From Howard Beck of the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog:

Although the league has not announced it, people who have been told
of the schedule say that the 70-year-old Bavetta will not work any of
the games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.

Some of Bavetta’s peers believe that the league is trying to nudge
him into retirement. (The referees are prohibited by league rules from
speaking on the record.) No one expects Bavetta will walk away, given
his headstrong nature, his enduring enthusiasm and his generous base
salary, which is believed to be $300,000 to $400,000 a year.

…Bavetta has worked 2,434 games, the most in N.B.A. history, and has
never missed an assignment since he joined the league in 1975. He has
worked in 27 finals games, and in every championship series from 1990
to 2008.

That streak ended last year — a subtle indication that Bavetta was
no longer considered among the elite referees. Any ambiguity was erased
this spring, when he was not assigned to the conference finals, ending
a 20-year streak. Bavetta had worked in every conference finals round
since 1989.

The show must go on, but it’s certainly a bit odd to see everything go down without Bavetta present for a game or two.

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