When Tim Donaghy reclaimed the spotlight for a time during the NBA Finals, it was clear that Commissioner David Stern had to do something to restore public confidence in his Referees. On Tuesday it was announced that United States Army Major General Ronald L. Johnson would be assigned to the newly created position of Senior Vice President, Referee Operations. Yes, this appears to be that move to restore faith in NBA Officials. Although Stern has come out repeatedly stating there are no issues with his officials, an announcement like this begs to differ.
I feel if there were a poll here it should go along the lines of: “Who is David Stern more closely resembling by hiring a 2 Star Army General to watch over his perfectly capable Officials”, with the following options presented:
A) Maury Povich
B) Mel Lastman
Obviously growing up watching those “Out of Control Teens” segments on Maury this makes perfect sense to me. Clearly Donaghy was creating nothing but problems for his caretakers, and just like all those troubled Teens who faced the Drill Sergeant and then were taken away to Boot Camp, Donaghy has brought justice down upon NBA officials everywhere (although as a video recently posted on this site suggests it's about time, as there was plenty of trouble brewing on the Court and not just from Donaghy alone).
David Stern states adamantly that his referees are the “best in the world”, but also admits with this move that, "very little that can be done to improve referees' performance on the floor, but plenty in how that performance is received." So in other words, now that the Army is involved fans can put their faith back in an officials performance...despite the fact that, according to Stern there was never a reason to really question them in the first place, since everything that was wrong went out the door with Donaghy, the only guilty party in the past.
This leads into the Mel Lastman selection, which goes along with the notion that everything actually IS fine with the officiating in the NBA, which would then mean this is nothing more than a severe overreaction on Stern's part. If everything truly is alright then Stern deserves to hear it as much if not more for this hiring than Lastman still gets it for calling the military in to shovel
And of all the selections that could have been made for this position, here's a quote from the newly assigned VP:
"As I leave the military and return to civilian life, I can't imagine a more interesting and challenging position," said Johnson. "Although I don't have a basketball background, other than as a lifelong fan, I am confident that my experience as an Army commander and engineer has equipped me to bring leadership and innovation to the NBA's exceptional officiating program."
So, the best in the world at their job are now reporting to a highly decorated fan, in hopes of placing other fans at ease…now sure he is likely a much louder and scarier fan than most of us, but how again does this relate to a renewed sense of trust?
The Slanch Report has a great write-up on their site about the state of the NBA, where clearly “nothing is wrong.” David Stern is certainly doing his best though to reassure us that this is simply not the case.