NBA Referees Near Officiating Perfection

Crunch Time Reports Highlight Steady Expertise of Basketball Officials

May 6, 2015 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) launched a new transparency initiative on March 2, 2015. The NBA Last Two Minute Report (L2M Report) evaluates the officiating decisions that occur during the final two minutes and overtime of close (5 point) games. Including the first round of playoffs, 1,759 decisions have been assessed. Examination of all reports indicates that when the referees blow the whistle, the calls are determined to be correct over 97% of the time.

“People forget that perfection is impossible, especially when it comes to officiating the greatest athletes in the world,” says Lee Seham, National Basketball Referees Association General Counsel. “They train and work hard every day because they want it to be perfect. They have their sights set on 110% every time they walk on the court.”

Whether a midweek game with teams that would not see the playoff court or a match between teams vying for a chance to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the referees performed with the same level of mastery. Playoff game assessments are similar to regular season numbers and illustrate that NBA officials maintain the same high standard of performance throughout the entire season.

Decisions Assessed 1,759
Correct Calls 97%
Correct Non-Calls 78%
Correct Decision Total 86%


The National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA), which represents the 63 active NBA referees, believes the subjective nature of what is considered a foul and necessitates a whistle undermines the validity of the non-calls assessed to be incorrect. Flow of game, how the possible contact influenced the play, speed of play and having just six eyes watching the greatest athletes in the world – all of these factors influence the referees’ decision to blow the whistle. Additionally, NBA referees don’t have the luxury of watching play from multiple camera angles, in high definition, slow motion replay or the many other helpful viewing tools utilized by game assessors. That the assessors, with all of this technology and removed from live action, still determine the vast majority of officiating decisions correct, reinforces the persistent skill of all NBA referees.

“Officiating evaluators and even fans have many advantages over a referee,” says Seham. “Refereeing fast-moving live action with just their eyes, knowledge and instinct – it’s easy to judge their profession, but a very select few of qualified individuals can actually do it, much less do it correctly 97% of the time.”

While all parties agree that every second of the 48-minute game is important, the L2M Reports strengthen the NBRA’s position that the NBA referee undertakes the hardest job in sports and does so with a stellar amount of undeviating mastery. These reports not only prove the consistency of performance in regular and playoff season, but also support the fact that NBA referees bring incredible expertise to every game.

About the NBRA
Established in 1973, the National Basketball Referees Association represents the 63 active and 16 retired referees of the National Basketball Association. The referees of the NBA seek to advance the quality of sports officiating, athletics and sportsmanship of professional basketball.