NBA playoffs puts Black refs in the spotlight

NEW YORK – Representation means a lot. The NBA has been a trailblazer of sorts when it comes to diversity. Officials working the floor during the postseason is clearly something the league has integrated into its round of inclusiveness. The first round of this year’s NBA playoffs showcases this.

Here are the numbers: At least half of the NBA’s official roster are Black. The NBA announced the list of 36 officials who earned spots to work the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.  The same group also comprises the officiating staff for the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament.

“Our officials are an integral part of the NBA family and we thank them for their dedication, commitment and service to the game,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations. “Congratulations to the group of 36 on their overall performance during the regular season and selection to work the 2021 NBA Playoffs.”

Below is the list of officials for the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs:

Brent Barnaky, Curtis Blair, Tony Brothers, James Capers, Derrick Collins, Sean Corbin, Kevin Cutler, Marc Davis, JB DeRosa, Kane Fitzgerald, Tyler Ford, Brian Forte, Scott Foster, Pat Fraher, Jacyn Goble, John Goble, David Guthrie, Bill Kennedy, Courtney Kirkland, Karl Lane, Eric Lewis, Mark Lindsay, Tre Maddox, Ed Malloy, Ken Mauer, Rodney Mott, Kevin Scott, Michael Smith, Ben Taylor, Dedric Taylor, Josh Tiven, Scott Wall, Tom Washington, James Williams, Sean Wright and Zach Zarba.

 Longtime NBA official Tony Brown has been named as an honorary referee for the playoffs.  Brown will not officiate during the playoffs after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last month. The NBA’s announcement of who will work the first round does not include any one of the five female officials, except for Lauren Holtkamp, who is an alternate.

The following officials are alternates for the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs:

Eric Dalen, Mitchell Ervin, Lauren Holtkamp, Gediminas Petraitis, Justin Van Duyne and Leon Wood.

Playoff officials are selected by the NBA Referee Operations management team based on three specific criteria assessed throughout the season: NBA Referee Operations graded rankings, play-calling accuracy and team rankings.  Officials will be evaluated after each round of the playoffs to determine who will advance in the 2021 postseason.

The officials who comprise the 2021 playoff roster average 17 years of NBA experience.  Twenty-four officials (67%) have five or more years of playoff experience, highlighted by Ken Mauer in his 27th postseason.  Tom Washington and Scott Foster will be officiating in the playoffs for their 23rd and 22nd seasons, respectively.

Referees assigned to first-round games include nine with more than 100 playoff games worked: Mauer (223), Foster (201), Washington (172), Tony Brothers (153), James Capers (150), Marc Davis (147), Ed Malloy (116), Bill Kennedy (113) and Zach Zarba (104).

Making their debut as members of the playoff staff are JB DeRosa and Jacyn Goble.