NBA to test off-site command center for instant replay review in September
LAS VEGAS — The NBA will soon begin testing the off-site video review system that will be used to aid referees in making their in-game instant replay decisions during the 2014-15 season.
At a press conference following a Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver announced plans to phase in the so-called "command center" setup that would provide centralized assistance of all in-game instant replay decisions.
"[The replay center] is going to be in operation beginning in September," Silver said. "We're going to experiment with the WNBA and then use it in the preseason."
Silver explained that the off-site command center will be responsible only for assisting the officials, rather than taking over the authority to make the actual calls.
"In essence, it will give our officials the assistance of a replay center in Secaucus, N.J., where they will be able to cue up the plays, with the best angles on the court," he said. "The decision will still lie with the officials at the game on the court."
Former NBA commissioner David Stern first floated the idea of a centralized review system in June 2013. The National Hockey League uses a similar setup, and the NBA was interested in the possibility because it could ensure the most accurate calls while also reducing the delays caused by the current cumbersome system.
For years, instant replay decisions have fallen to the three game referees, who must go over to a courtside monitor and review their own work. Generally speaking, the television monitors available for their reviews aren't that large, and there have also been questions as to whether the referees have every pertinent replay angle available to them on their feed.
Silver, who succeeded Stern earlier this year, told reporters at the 2014 All-Star Weekend in New Orleans that the league was still interested in adopting the centralized review system.
"Now, as you know," Silver said in February, "the game stops, the referees walk courtside, turn the monitor around, talk to the truck, order up the replays. And I think that it's our belief if we can get it right, that if have you officials, in essence, located at headquarters, at a central site, that that process can begin immediately, they then can communicate with the officials and that will save time."
Instant replay became a hot-button issue again during the 2014 playoffs when the Thunder defeated the Clippers in Game 5 of a Western Conference semifinals series thanks, in part, to a disputed instant replay review decision. In an extended rant that eventually led to a $25,000 fine, Clippers coach Doc Rivers suggested that the league should scrap its review system if it didn't lead to the correct calls.
The NBA has steadily added in-game video review for various situations over the last decade. Beginning with reviews for buzzer-beating baskets, the system has expanded to include flagrant fouls, altercations, clock malfunctions, whether a three-point shooter’s foot was on the line, clear-path fouls and late-game goaltending calls, among other scenarios.
The biggest hurdle to implementing the system, Stern and Silver said last year, was establishing a smooth and reliable communication method between the central office and the game referees.