In a fun bit of broadcasting/league synergy, ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson will officiate the second quarter of Monday’s Summer League game between the New York Knicks and Portland TrailBlazers on ESPN2.
The league announced that today via Twitter, noting that Jefferson has been attending daily officiating meetings in Las Vegas.
NBA Champion and 17-year NBA veteran Richard Jefferson will officiate the second quarter of tonight's New York vs. Portland game after attending daily NBA Summer League Officiating Meetings in Las Vegas.
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) July 11, 2022
The NBA posted a behind-the-scenes video with Jefferson attending training, too:
After attending Daily Officiating Meetings in Las Vegas, Richard Jefferson (@Rjeff24) will officiate the 2nd quarter of Knicks vs. Trail Blazers TONIGHT at 11:00pm/et on ESPN2! https://t.co/Qlk8G8poqw pic.twitter.com/Nl15pnZBdg
— NBA (@NBA) July 11, 2022
Zach Lowe noted that this has been in the works for a while:
He has been threatening to T someone up for weeks. https://t.co/tI1jIkbIkW
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 11, 2022
ESPN college analyst Fran Fraschilla weighed in, too, noting the value this sort of experience can bring to broadcasts, both in terms of having more informed analysis and the ways that it helps bring officials and broadcasters into alignment:
The next college basketball season after @Big12Conference Officiating Camp, the officials had enough trust in me, that they came over to our broadcast table to explain a rule. It’s now common practice in the basketball TV world.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) July 11, 2022
Considering the influence officiating has on an NBA game, finding ways to improve access for viewers into the various processes involved makes all the sense in the world. Jefferson, as a former player, obviously has years of experience dealing with officials from a more antagonistic side; getting this kind of run as a member of an officiating crew and hearing his thoughts after has a lot of potential for insight.
This shouldn’t, though, come across as some kind of “be nicer to the refs, that job is hard” rant. They should always do the best job they can, and there are certain things in the NBA that are officiated in ways that need to change ASAP. That doesn’t mean rules, like the take foul, that should be abolished. Those are instances where officials are just doing what’s on the books. Rather, things like seeing contact at the rim and waiting to blow a whistle until the shot doesn’t fall (or swallowing the whistle if the basket is good.)
That said, Jefferson does a lot of games for ESPN, and having this kind of experience can really only be a good thing for everyone involved. He’ll have more firsthand experience and an ability to discuss a key facet of the game from a different perspective. Officials get their side of the story told a bit more than they would have before.
And maybe most importantly, viewers have yet another bit of filter removed from the space between what they’re seeing and hearing on a broadcast and the game action happening on the court, which should be the goal of every sports presentation.