Here's ammunition for those who argue that the quality of
officiating is declining. When we asked our panel (a coach,
player or front-office executive from each of the NBA's 29
teams) to name the referee whom they would want to decide
between a charge or a block with the score tied and a few
seconds left in the game, six refs received multiple votes, and
all of them have at least 12 years of experience. That's not
exactly a vote of confidence for the league's younger officials.
Eight selectors picked 23-year-vet Hugh Evans as the guy they
would want on the baseline to make that call. "He has the best
judgment of anybody in the league," says one Atlantic Division
coach. Mike Mathis, Dick Bavetta and Joey Crawford grabbed four
votes each; Dan Crawford and Jess Kersey got two apiece. "If I
see Bavetta or Evans," one coach says, "I know there's not going
to be any one-sidedness."
Three voters couldn't name a single worthy candidate, and one
picked Earl Strom, who retired in 1990. Chicago coach Phil
Jackson had the most curious choice: Hue Hollins. In the 1994
playoffs it was Hollins who whistled Scottie Pippen for a
last-second foul against the Knicks' Hubert Davis, costing the
Bulls a win. Why Hollins? Says Jackson, "He owes us a favor."