So Refs Get Fried When Players Aren’t Happy? Twitter Is Implying Fred VanVleet’s Very Public Bashing Of Ben Taylor Put The Ref On Punishment

Earlier this month Toronto Raptors’ guard Fred VanVleet went off on official Ben Taylor following a game where VanVleet was assessed a technical. VanVleet was fined $30K, but Meadowlark Media’s Tom Haberstroh noticed that Taylor was not the crew chief in four of the next five games he officiated after the VanVleet incident. Coincidence?

“Definitely caught my eye that the NBA moved referee Ben Taylor out of his usual crew chief role in four of the five games after the Fred VanVleet press conference,” Haberstroh tweeted on Wednesday.

Was Ben Taylor Punished?

Taylor has 10 years experience and is often the crew chief when he officiates games. Hard not to see this as a demotion. However neither the NBA or NBRA has commented about any type of discipline or punishment for Taylor.

In case you missed it, VanVleet went off on Taylor, implying the referee is targeting him.

“I don’t mind, I’ll take a fine. I don’t really care. I thought Ben Taylor was f***ing terrible tonight,” VanVleet said in his postgame media availability. “I think that most nights, out of the three (referees), there’s one or two that just f— the game up. It’s been like that a couple of games in a row. Denver was tough, obviously. You come out tonight, competing pretty hard and I get a bulls— tech that changes the whole dynamic of the game, changed the whole flow of the game. Most of the refs are trying hard. I like a lot of the refs. They’re trying hard. They’re pretty fair and communicate well. And then you got the other ones who just want to be d—- and just kind of f— up the game. … You can look it up, most of my techs this year have been with Ben Taylor officiating. At a certain point as a player you feel it’s personal.”

NBA referees have a hard job and get it right the majority of the time. They are the best basketball referees in the world. But it would be naïve to think there is no personal bias. They’re people just like the players.

How Does The NBA Judge Referees?

The NBA and NBRA have a system where officials are graded, monitored, and judged to make sure nothing untoward is occurring. This league is not that far removed from the Tim Donaghy scandal.

But there is no transparency into the monitoring and grading process. Players by and large feel the same about the majority of officials, but if they make it a point to call one out specifically it’s worth listening.

VanVleet’s teammate Scottie Barnes was ejected from a game earlier this month by longtime NBA referee Scott Foster. Following the game, in the referee’s pool interview, Foster said Barnes was tossed because he used “verbiage that which directly questioned the integrity of the crew.”

Clearly referees take it personally when their integrity is questioned and that is understandable. But again if a player is so pointed and direct in their call-out, it bears noting. NBA officials are not above reproach.

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