David Stern on the league’s refs

I caught up with NBA commissioner David Stern this afternoon at a great event at the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Monica. He was on hand, along with a lot of other NBA dignitaries, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Derek Fisher, Vlad Radmanovic, Bill Sharman and Bill Lanier to present a new reading and learning center to the Boys and Girls club over on Lincoln and Wilshire.

These are some of the best things the NBA does, and you could tell the kids there were already making great use of their new digs. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a look.

But controversy waits for no good deed. And Stern has had to field questions every where he goes these days about the salacious allegations of game-fixing leveled by ex-referee Tim Donaghy yesterday.

Here’s the latest:

“Obviously our guys have a very hard job. There are always fans who are upset on any particular call, and feel that it’s incorrect. And online polls (about whether the public believes Donaghy) are fascinating, but the people who are participating are the ones who have the largest beefs, so it’s not a great indication (about fans skepticism). But we have to do a better job of letting our fans know of how much our officials do, how it’s metricizded and judged, how viewed and rated they really are.

“We just need to get it out there what a good job is done to make sure our officials are the best in the world. There’s an observer at every game and he watches every play, then he goes hom and he reviews the video and then there are supervisors who view that, the referees themselves view the games, and then at the end of the season the coaches and general managers and the league officiating staff rates and ranks the referees. They’re clearly the most rated and ranked group of employees in terms of their performance in all of sports. But each time an allegation is made, the media forgets what they learned last time and we have to start the education program again.

All of that said, we’ve added instant replay to help them out at games’ end or when the period ends, maybe we consider other extensions of that. But most of the time, 90-91 percent of the time, our referees get it right. That’s a fact.”

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