NBA notes: League has plan to improve player-referee interaction on the court

Kevin Durant was steaming mad over officiating this week, then eventually apologized after realizing he could have better handled his frustrations.

The NBA hopes all players and referees take the time for such reflection.

The league introduced a five-pronged plan Friday to try to improve how players and referees get along during games. It comes during a season where one of the storylines has been the ongoing deterioration of the relationship between the sides, with stars such as Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul not shy about expressing their frustrations.

“What we’ve basically done is taken a bit of a step back,” said Byron Spruell, NBA president of league operations. “It’s kind of been a cumulative effect that’s been going on throughout the course of the season. We feel like frustration is high and tensions are high, so we want to address it, frankly.”


The league’s plan comes less than a month before the players and referees are set to meet in Los Angeles during All-Star weekend, a long-planned session that was scheduled with hopes of finding common ground. The NBA isn’t expected to have an official role in that meeting.

“Time is of the essence,” said former referee Monty McCutchen, now an NBA vice president overseeing referee development and training. “This is an important issue.”

McCutchen and Michelle Johnson, NBA senior vice president overseeing referee operations, will be among those starting to meet with teams in the coming days, one of the five steps in the plan:

—Discussing rules interpretations, on-court conduct and the expectations of NBA referees with all 30 clubs.


—A re-emphasis of the NBA’s “Respect for the Game” rules , not just for players but also coaches and referees themselves, with hopes of more consistent enforcement of violations.

—Expansion of rules education by the NBA Referee Operations department for coaches, players and team personnel to provide better clarity of rules and interpretations.

—Enhanced training for referees on conflict resolution. Johnson and McCutchen will conduct that training and will more closely scrutinize on-court interactions to make sure referees are handling things consistent with league policy.

—An additional reliance on the NBA’s Officiating Advisory Council, which will be tasked with getting all parts of the league more involved in finding solutions to problems.



Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart will miss about two weeks after cutting his right hand hitting a picture frame. Smart apologized to his teammates, coaches and fans on Twitter on Friday afternoon, saying, “I feel like I let all y’all down.” The Celtics said Smart returned to Boston after the injury to his right hand “from a non-basketball incident” before Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. …

Police officers used a stun gun on Milwaukee Bucks rookie guard Sterling Brown and arrested the 22-year-old Friday after a confrontation at a Walgreens parking lot. Police Sgt. Timothy Gauerke says the department is investigating what happened and the officers’ use of force. Gauerke says officers contacted a man after seeing a vehicle parked across two handicapped parking spots while doing a business check at about 2 a.m. Gauerke did not say what led to the officers’ use of force and it wasn’t immediately known whether Brown was cited for anything. Team spokesman Barry Baum said that the Bucks were “aware of the matter. We completely support Sterling and are confident that this will be resolved quickly.”