I mentioned NBA ref Dick Bavetta in Tuesday’s Rock On and got notes from Jazz fans who are still angry over his officiating in the 1998 NBA Finals.
I’ve known one or two NBA referees, met a few others, but have never spoken with Bavetta. From what I understand, Jerry Sloan actually thought he was one of the better officials. An informal player poll in The Oklahoman voted him the favorite referee in the league.
The only tie I have to Bavetta is that someone on an airport shuttle in Portland once asked if I was the guy that officiated the game the previous night. Since Bavetta is quite a bit older, I wasn’t thrilled, though I understand Bavetta runs 5-8 miles a day. In that case, I guess I should be flattered.
Bavetta, of course, is the ref who waved off Howard Eisley’s 3-point basket in the NBA Finals, saying the shot clock had expired, though replays showed otherwise. Jazz fans also blame Bavetta for not calling a Michael Jordan push-off on the winning shot of Game 6 in 1998.
When I review that shot, It still seems like ordinary contact to me.
Maybe I’m starting to think like Bavetta, too.
Anyway, Jazz fans resurrected those bad feelings when Bavetta called Mo Williams for a Dec. 3 foul on L.A.’s Chauncey Billups, even though Billups was later warned for flopping.
Although I joke about Bavetta in Rock On, I’ve always considered him a better-than-average official. Now that I think of it, he might even be a better-than-average looking guy.
To help you decide, I’ve linked to this Sports Illustrated photo profile on its website.