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It’s official, after 39 seasons NBA referee Dick Bavetta retires

Aug 19, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

Dick Bavetta AP

The NBA tried to push Dick Bavetta out the door starting a few years back, but he was going to leave on his own terms.

Age 74 seemed about the right time.

Bavetta is officially stepping away after 39 seasons as an official, the NBA announced Tuesday, something that had been reported a while ago.

“Dick’s dedication and commitment to his craft has been an inspiration to all NBA officials,” said NBA President, Basketball Operations Rod Thorn in a statement. “We are grateful for his contributions to our league, and we wish him the best as he enjoys his well-earned retirement.”

“On behalf of myself and the entire Bavetta family, I would like to thank the NBA family and the National Basketball Referee Association for allowing me the honor and the privilege of representing them for 39 wonderful years,” said Bavetta in his statement. “I am most proud of never having missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career. It really has been a great run.”

I can list Bavetta’s achievements: 2,635 consecutive regular season games officiated, 270 Playoff games including 27 Finals games, three NBA All-Star Games (1989, 1995 and 2006) and he was the first NBA referee selected to officiate the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.

But really, what you remember him for is racing Charles Barkley.

It was time for this, but Bavetta was part of the personality of the NBA. He will be missed.

  1. spursareold - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    I don’t think Joey Crawford will every leave voluntarily. This would be a good time for the NBA to forcibly retire him, too.

    • bkbell3 - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      Yea, i can’t stand that guy. He thinks people are paying to see him.

    • 2016olympics - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Joey Crawford really could become a huge liability to the NBA…that guy is a maniac.

      Remember this one?:

  2. sportsfan18 - Aug 19, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Wow, I knew he was around a long time but I had no idea he had NEVER missed a game.

    Forget even getting sick… He could have twisted an ankle at home or his knee on the steps…

    Or he could have twisted his ankle in a game or been run into by a player…

    To NEVER miss a game and doing that job, while running up and down the court all those yrs…

    Especially at 68, 69, 70, 71 yrs old up through this past season.

    I mean if we twisted our ankle, we could still sit at a desk and work, he can’t.

    Big hat tip to him…

  3. elcaminobilly - Aug 19, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    One of the best officials in League history. He’s been doing this a decade longer than I’ve been alive. Not only his incredible run of games, he was truly fair. Some refs elicit a groan due to either favoritism or just plain missing calls, but not him. I’m not sure if the Hall of Fame inducts referees, but if they do, he needs to be one of them.

    • spursareold - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      He’s not impartial. One of his nicknames is Knick Bavetta, because of his penchant for favoring the Ewing era Knicks teams. He was also involved in that travesty in Sacramento in 2002.

  4. convincedofthehex - Aug 19, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    The next time you’re watching an NBA game that Joey Crawford is reffing, just go on Twitter and search his name. Let the fun begin, endless comedy.

  5. nclrbrt - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    If all NBA refs were as good as Dick Bavetta, nobody would ever have a legitimate complaint. Far and away the best I’ve ever seen. Hope retirement doesn’t kill him.

  6. mbeezy23 - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:34 PM


  7. jabronikid - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    look at his hand on the picture, that sums it up! Rest in peace Dick!

  8. 2016olympics - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Wonder how many games he called with Tim Donaghy?

  9. pourman - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Many people half his age couldn’t keep up with him still. When he started, in 1975, guys like Havlicek were still playing. The Spurs and Nets, among others, were still in the ABA! Remarkable career.

  10. duhwighthoward - Aug 19, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    He is one of the lucky to have had a piece-of-cake job his whole life and be able to retire so young.

    • sixerstrong - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:49 AM

      Piece of cake job? Did you not learn anything from the NFL ref strike? The job is ridiculously harder than you could imagine.

      • duhwighthoward - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        American “football” is extremely boring and therefore I don’t watch it. So what was so special about the strike and what did you learn from it?

    • sixerstrong - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      At first, nobody thought that there would be much of an impact, seeing as they were bringing in referees from the college ranks (the ones right below professional), and it was an atrocity. They blew call after call, and probably decided a playoff spot because of one (a lot harder to get in the NFL playoffs than NBA, only 6 of 32 teams make the playoffs). It was so bad, the replacement refs didn’t even last 4 games into the season.

      • duhwighthoward - Aug 20, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        In the NBA, the refs only make the mandatory once a game travelling call to remind fans that it is a rule that still exists. They usually do it when a player makes a lightning quick first step after catching the ball on the perimeter. The rest of the game they let players travel all they want.

        Same goes for double dribble.

        Fouls seem to be completely arbitrary. Let’s not forget about flopping. How many times a game do the refs call charge and you can’t believe they fell for bad acting?

        Preferential treatment for superstars.

        And make-up calls.

        And now, instant replay. The ball goes out of bounds and they spend 10 minutes trying to decide who it touched last.

        So don’t tell me that their job is hard. These supposed pros do a bad job night in and night out and unlike the real world in which most people live, there are no repercussions.

        Here’s one more for you: Home Court Advantage. In no other sport are the refs more influenced by the fans then the NBA.

  11. therealhtj - Aug 19, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    Guess his debts to the mob are all paid up now.

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