“These Fans Came Here to See Me”: Ex-NBA Champ, Who Beat Kobe Bryant’s Lakers in Finals, Exposes NBA Referees

As far as professional basketball is concerned, ex-NBA champ Rasheed Wallace’s name is among the most renowned. Famous for his fiery temper on the court and being a former NBA Champ, the late Wallace had made a name for himself in the course of his great career. Nevertheless, Wallace has recently become more talkative regarding how relations between athletes in the NBA and officials have changed over some years since he retired.

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A Time When Referees Were Mentors on the Court

Recently, Rasheed Wallace a man who famously led the Detroit Pistons to victory over Kobe Bryant’s Lakers in the NBA finals, shed light on the evolution of dynamics between players and referees over the years. “If I did something wrong, a referee would come to talk to me, in fact, he would be talking to me during a time out when I first came into the league,” Wallace says. “They explained what was wrong; how I traveled and why the call was made.”


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A certain degree of mutual respect and understanding among themselves at that point characterized referees and players. With this communication in place, players could acquire knowledge and adjust to the game’s laws, resulting in a more just game with minimal controversies. That was a time when the referees looked more like tutors on the court, not just cops.

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They discussed that each year the relationship between a player and a ref became more and more distant. “You had a lot of Veteran referees who were in there you know at the time I came into the league in their late 40s or early 50s you know but they were great referees you know again they talked to us and it seemed like as it went on more and more that’s when the referees got the attitude like oh well these fans came here to see me.”

He continued, “Shut up, you can’t say anything to me, don’t talk to me, just hold up time out dog how crazy you can’t tell me you said I traveled or you said I did this and you can’t tell me how like you can’t share that with me oh no get away from me this and that oh so then all right so because see before that I never had no problem with no referees.”

But unfortunately, over the years, this once cohesive relationship has degenerated. He notes, “With time passing by, it appeared as if the referees had taken a different stand.” Some of the old referees in the league, many of whom were in their late forties and early fifties when Wallace arrived, appeared to embody this unique bond.

The coaches continued speaking to the players, giving explanations for their decisions, and showing respect to the players on the court.


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The Shift from Players’ Game to Referees’ Showmanship

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However, with time, things began taking an alarming turn. He remembers this with a bit of contempt, “It seemed like increasingly some of the football referees felt that they were the celebrities. They started adopting the ‘I’m in charge here; why do you even question me?’ kind of approach.” In a way, they felt that people were supposed to watch them officiate rather than the amazing talents from the field.

This change in perception has not only ruptured the relationship between players and referees but also spoilt the game for fans. Referees should be there to monitor rules, not rule over players or take away from the impressive skills of athletes. Fans also go to watch basketball, not the players’ opinions that get them a technical foul.


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Finally, Rasheed Wallace’s comments shed light on the changes being experienced in the NBA. Referees have a vital role in ensuring the spirit of the game is guarded, while not forgetting that their primary role is that of ensuring the players display their skill. The compatibility between players and referees used to be unanimous in the NBA, something that is essential for reviving the sport and providing a pleasurable experience to fans internationally.

Author: ZeroToHero

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