Best NBA Referees 2024: The Top Officials in the Game Today

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Over the years, the NBA has seen some incredible referees who have become household names among fans. From Joey Crawford to Dick Bavetta, these officials have shown dedication and skill in their craft. Whether you’re a casual fan or a die-hard enthusiast, you’ll want to know who the best NBA referees are and what makes them stand out.

Top NBA Referees of All Time

1. Joey Crawford

Joey Crawford is one of the most famous NBA referees of all time. He started his career in 1977 and officiated his first NBA game in 1982. Throughout his career, he officiated over 2,500 regular-season games and 374 playoff games. Crawford was known for his no-nonsense approach to the game and his ability to control the players on the court. He was also known for his colorful personality and his quick wit.

2. Dick Bavetta

Dick Bavetta is another legendary NBA referee. He officiated his first NBA game in 1975 and had a long and successful career. Bavetta was known for his consistency and his ability to make the right call at the right time.

He was also known for his dedication to the game and his professionalism. In his career, Bavetta officiated over 2,600 consecutive regular-season games, a record that still stands today.

3. Steve Javie

Steve Javie is one of the most respected NBA referees of all time. He started his career in 1986 and officiated over 1,500 regular-season games and 190 playoff games. Javie was known for his attention to detail and his ability to communicate with the players on the court. He was also known for his calm demeanor and his ability to make the right call in high-pressure situations.

These three referees are just a few of the many great NBA referees who have made a significant impact on the game. Their dedication, professionalism, and skill have helped make the NBA the exciting and competitive league that it is today.

Current NBA Referees to Watch

1. Scott Foster

best nba referees

Scott Foster is one of the most experienced referees in the NBA. He has been officiating games for over 25 years and has a reputation for being one of the toughest referees in the league. Foster is known for his no-nonsense approach to the game, and he’s not afraid to make the tough calls when they need to be created.

2. Tony Brothers

Tony Brothers is another veteran referee who has been officiating NBA games for over 20 years. He’s known for his attention to detail and ability to make the right call in even the most difficult situations.

Brothers is also among the most respected referees in the league, and he’s often called upon to officiate some of the year’s biggest games.

3. Marc Davis

Marc Davis is a newer referee who has only been officiating NBA games for around 10 years. However, he’s quickly made a name for himself as one of the best referees in the league. Davis is known for communicating effectively with players and coaches, and he’s often called upon to officiate some of the most high-profile games of the year.

Controversial NBA Referees

1. Tim Donaghy

Tim Donaghy is perhaps the most infamous referee in NBA history. In 2007, he was found to have bet on games he was officiating and even provided inside information to gamblers. Donaghy was eventually sentenced to 15 months in prison for his actions.

Donaghy’s actions shook the NBA to its core and raised questions about the league’s integrity. While the NBA has taken steps to ensure that something like this never happens again, Donaghy’s legacy will always be associated with corruption and scandal.

2. Bennett Salvatore

best nba referees

Bennett Salvatore is another referee involved in his fair share of controversial moments. In 2006, he was involved in a heated exchange with Miami Heat coach Pat Riley during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Salvatore was accused of calling a technical foul on Riley after the coach had only asked a question.

Salvatore was also involved in a controversial call during the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. Many fans and analysts felt that Salvatore and his crew had favored the Lakers in the series, leading to accusations of bias and unfairness.

3. Bob Delaney

Bob Delaney is perhaps best known for breaking up the infamous “Malice at the Palace” brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in 2004. However, Delaney has also been involved in some controversial moments.

In 2007, Delaney was involved in a heated exchange with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich during a game against the Dallas Mavericks. Popovich was upset with Delaney’s call and was ejected from the game after arguing with the referee.

While these referees may not be the best NBA referees, they have certainly left their mark on the league. Whether it’s through corruption, bias, or controversial calls, these referees have shown that even the best can make mistakes.

My Personal Opinion

The top NBA referees in 2023 have truly elevated the game to new levels of fairness and professionalism. From their consistent enforcement of the rules to their exceptional court awareness, these officials are a testament to the importance of officiating in maintaining the integrity and flow of basketball.

In my opinion, the top NBA referees of 2023 demonstrate an unparalleled understanding of the game and an ability to make split-second decisions with remarkable accuracy. Their keen eyes and attention to detail ensure that every call is made to the best of their abilities, regardless of the intensity or significance of the moment. I admire their unwavering commitment to upholding the rules and ensuring a level playing field for all teams.


What criteria are used to determine the best NBA referees?

The best NBA referees are often evaluated based on their knowledge of the rules, consistency in making accurate calls, ability to manage the game effectively, communication skills, and overall impact on the fairness and flow of the game.

Do NBA referees receive awards or recognition for their performance?

Yes, the NBA recognizes outstanding referees through various awards and honors. The most prestigious award for referees is the “NBA Referee of the Year,” which is given annually to the referee who demonstrates exceptional skills, professionalism, and consistency throughout the season.

Are there any female referees who are considered among the best in the NBA?

Yes, female referees have made significant strides in the NBA, and some have earned recognition as top officials. Violet Palmer and Lauren Holtkamp are notable examples of female referees who have achieved success and respect in the league.

Is there a specific pathway to becoming an NBA referee?

Yes, the NBA has a structured process for selecting and developing referees. It typically involves officiating at lower levels, such as high school or college games, before progressing to professional leagues and eventually earning a chance to officiate in the NBA.

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Fabian Kühar
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