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Be Better Than Average


Today’s post will focus on 5 key things that will separate
you from the majority of average basketball officials. No
one wants to be an average basketball official, yet most
still fall into that category.



Ken Hudson, NBA Pioneer

As we observe Black History month and watch on television all the officials of color, it is good to remember that someone had to be the first. In the NBA that first person was Kenny Hudson. The following is his obituary reprinted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dated 05/17/2012:

Kenneth Samuel Hudson made history in 1968 by becoming the first African-American full-time referee in the National Basketball Association, but his legacy stretches far beyond the court. The pioneering Pittsburgh native spent four years officiating in the NBA before working in Boston and Atlanta in an executive capacity at Coca-Cola and as vice president of community affairs for the Boston Celtics Limited Partnership.

Mr. Hudson died May 9 in hospice care in Atlanta. He battled prostate cancer since 1997 and suffered brain damage in a recent fall. He was 72. The night after his death, the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics tipped off Game 6 of their first-round playoff series. Three referees – Derrick Stafford, Eric Lewis and Bill Kennedy – put whistles around their necks and took the court in Boston. All three were African-American. “Kenny was ahead of the curve,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters before Game 6. “He was a neat man. He stood for a lot of good things, and I think he’s responsible for a lot of inner-city kids being where they are today. ‘

Mr. Rivers was once one of those inner-city kids. He recalled being pulled off the streets of Chicago in 1980 and put on his first-ever plane flight. His destination was Boston and the Boston Shootout, an AAU basketball tournament founded eight years earlier by Mr. Hudson. That’s where I met Kenny Hudson,” Mr. Rivers said. “Of all the tournaments I’ve ever played in, that’s the way AAU should be.”

Though his name will forever be etched into basketball history books, Mr. Hudson’s first passion was playing baseball while growing up in Homewood. After graduating from Westinghouse High School in 1957, he earned a baseball scholarship at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. It was in Wilberforce where Mr. Hudson began his officiating career. What started as a work-study job resulted in Mr. Hudson serving as a basketball referee for high school and semiprofessional leagues before his graduation in 1961.

After college, Mr. Hudson returned to Pittsburgh to teach elementary school and study retail management at the University of Pittsburgh. In the mid 1960’s, Mr. Hudson caught the eye of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell while officiating a college game. Mr. Russell persuaded legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach to allow Mr. Hudson to referee the team’s training camp scrimmages. Auerbach, who died in 2006, agreed, was impressed with Mr. Hudson’s professionalism and recommended him to the NBA league offices.

NBA Barrier Breaker: Ken Hudson


Dr. Kenneth Walker Obituary


Featured Image -- 1623Dr. Walker was an educator and a basketball referee. He devoted his career to serving home state of Rhode Island. Born in East Providence on December 19, 1930, he was the son of the late Frank R. Walker, Jr. and Lillian (Frye) Walker. He was the beloved husband of Gail. B. (Smith) Walker for 63 years.

He dedicated his professional life to improving urban education. Dr. Walker attended Providence College, where he received a B.A. in 1957. Upon graduating, he began teaching English and Social Studies for the East Providence School District while also serving as a Guidance Counselor. He earned a M. Ed. from Rhode Island College in 1962, where he worked part time from 1967 to 1970 as the Assistant Director of Project Upward Bound, a federally supported program for economically and educationally disadvantaged youth. He was promoted to assistant Principal at Central jr. High School before accepting a position as Assistant Professor…

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IAABO Black Caucus 2018-Photos



IAABO Black Caucus 2018


On Friday, April 27, 2007 the IAABO Black Caucus provided the delegates who had gathered in Mystic Ct. an opportunity to hear a seminar that was titled “What It Takes To Get To The Next Level.” The panel that was involved in this discussion were all individuals that had reached a level of success in officiating and could speak from experience on the topic of reaching the next level. This distinguished panel included Donnee Grey and Reggie Greenwood who have worked the NCAA finals and the NCAA Final Four respectively, Matt Boland, who has worked as an NBA official for the past five  years, David Walker, a Division One official who has also officiated in the IBL and the USBL, Jeffrey Smith, a WNBA official who also works several D-1 conferences.  Last but not least, we had Cecil Watkins who is President and CEO of National Pro-Am and is responsible for a significant number of officials including Ronnie Nunn making it to the NBA.

The panelist spoke with passion and conviction regarding their opinions. The general consensus among the panelists was an official had to have a passion for officiating if the official desired to reach the Division One level or above but officiating had to be placed fourth in importance with your integrity being number one, your home (wife and family) being number two and your job being number three. Reggie Greenwood made it a point to say “If you lose your integrity, you won’t have much of a future in our avocation.” The following is a summary of some of the points that were covered by the panel. These points included mentoring, the understanding of the rules, and the role of camps in the advancement process, goal setting, and respect for your partners.

It was stated that it is up to a young official to seek out a mentor and not, vice versa. This mentor should be a senior official who has achieved a level of success as an official. He or she should have the knowledge of the ins and outs of officiating to guide the younger official along his career path. Be sure to obtain advise from this person whom the official can trust. They should be able to tell the official the “unvarnished” truth regarding their abilities. The most important point regarding mentoring is to listen to the advice that the mentor is giving.

The panel felt that to make it to the next level, an official had to have a thorough understanding of the rules. There are no exceptions regarding this caveat. An official who is moving in the D-1 arena cannot afford to misinterpret a rule during a game. There is too much at stake at that level to allow an official just starting to have an incomplete understanding of the rules therefore, staying in the rulebook and casebook is a must.

Their comments concerning camps were noteworthy. They said that camps are an integral part of the climate for advancing in officiating today. Matt made it a point to say that if an official is going to advance, he or she must go to camp. David Walker stressed that there are two types of camp. There are the instructional camps where an official is taught to develop their skills and there are camps that David Walker rightly describes as “job interviews.” These camps want to know if you are “ready”. They are not interested in training you. Since you will represent them (i.e. the conference), they want to know what kind of person you are. At these camps, you are being evaluated 24/7i.e. from the time that you come into camp to the time that you leave an official is being observed. Jeff Smith’s contention was that when you go to an instructional camp, “learn something”. At these camps “they need to see how you work, how you hustle, how well you run. There needs to be something of you that they can point out that says, I recognize that official for this reason….Nothing flamboyant, just totally managing the game.” The last but most important point regarding camps is don’t attend to an exposure camp that you are not ready for.

Officials who want to reach the next level have to be goal setters. They should set short-term goals (i.e. h.s. varsity and/or championships), intermediate goals such as state championships and long term goals (i.e. D-1). Each of these goals should be viewed from the perspective of being realistic or unrealistic. If the goal is realistic, then the official should “go for it”. If it isn’t, then the official should readjust their priorities. Once a goal has been reached, there has to be a “reset”. Intermediate goals become short term and long-term goals become intermediate.

It was stated that the top officials give respect to one another. If the top officials give respect, shouldn’t this be an example of how the younger officials should interact with their partners? The term “we” should be an integral part of conversations with partners for example; “Did we get that play right?” Do we have control of this game?” How/why/what do you think we should …?”

Most of the comments that were offered were not new. I’m sure that they have been repeated in IAABO boards throughout the country. If you are a veteran official, look to be a mentor to a young official and hopefully, be a “good partner” when you are working your ballgame no matter what level the game is. If the reader is a young official, it behooves you to heed the advice that these veterans have offered. Their advice can only assist them in climbing the ladder of success towards whatever goals you may set.