Pioneering NBA Referee Inducted Into Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame 2016 Class

On April 4, 2016, NBA referee Darell Garretson was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The National Basketball Referees Association is honored to have one of the most innovative and dedicated officials the game has ever seen recognized for his outstanding achievements. A devoted guardian of the game, Garretson’s contributions fundamentally changed professional basketball officiating and helped groom a generation of referees.

From the onset of his career, Garretson displayed incredible comprehension of the game and worked tirelessly to improve his officiating skills. Between 1967 and 1994, Garretson officiated more than 2,000 games, including 1,798 regular season NBA games. Garretson’s post-season history includes officiating 269 playoff games and 41 NBA Finals games. He also officiated five NBA All-Star games (1972, 1976, 1981, 1988 and 1992).

His commitment to the profession was perhaps best exemplified by his work with young referees. As NBA Supervisor of Officials, a position he held from 1981 to 1998, he created a systematic routine to help new referees acclimate to the rhythm of the NBA game. Garretson also actively recruited and mentored young officials. “A lot of guys are great refs, but he took the young referees and made you feel real comfortable. I owe so much to that guy, he believed in me,” said veteran NBA referee Joey Crawford.

Garretson also helped change the face of officiating by implementing the three-person mechanics from the then-current two-person mechanics. This innovative change, made at the highest level of officiating, is now the standard across the world for officiating basketball. In addition, he was fundamental in creating the “refereeing the defense” concept, which shifted the focus away from the ball, and onto the defensive player. This approach revolutionized how the game was officiated, and is still vital to officiating today.

A true referee’s referee, Garretson’s passion and leadership are also responsible for establishing the first NBA referee’s union, the National Association of Basketball Referees. The NBRA is proud to have our late friend, Darell Garretson, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.