Dick Bavetta Retiring After 39-Year Career as NBA Referee

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2014

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:   Referee Dick Bavetta #27 watches a play between the Houston Rockets and the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center on December 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

After a lengthy and successful NBA career, longtime referee Dick Bavetta is retiring. 

NBA.com on Twitter announced the news Tuesday:

NBA.com added more in a press release:

Bavetta, who began his NBA career on Dec. 2, 1975, at Madison Square Garden in a game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics finished with a record 2,635 consecutive regular season games officiated, having never missed an assigned game throughout his entire career. Bavetta also officiated 270 Playoff games including 27 Finals games.

'Dick's dedication and commitment to his craft has been an inspiration to all NBA officials,' said [NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn]. 'We are grateful for his contributions to our league, and we wish him the best as he enjoys his well-earned retirement.'

Per that release, he also worked three All-Star Games and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, remembered as the birth of the Dream Team. Before coming to the NBA, he spent time officiating for the Eastern League, Rucker League, FIBA, Jersey Shore Basketball League and the Public and Catholic High School leagues in New York City.    

Bavetta commented on his career, via the NBA's release:

On behalf of myself and the entire Bavetta family, I would like to thank the NBA family and the National Basketball Referee Association for allowing me the honor and the privilege of representing them for 39 wonderful years.

I am most proud of never having missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career. It really has been a great run.

And an impressive one at that.

You wouldn't blame most referees for taking a game off now and again. After all, it's not an easy gig—the fans give you nothing but flak, players and coaches constantly harass you and, no matter what calls you make, at least half of the people watching always think you got it wrong. 

That never stopped Bavetta, however.

There are several ways to put Bavetta's career into perspective. The first is that his streak for consecutive games officiated is a longer one than Cal Ripken Jr. managed in his career with the Baltimore Orioles, when he played in 2,632 consecutive games.

The second is provided by Tom Haberstroh of ESPN:

Brad Stevens, of course, is the head coach of the Boston Celtics.

After a long career such as his, Bavetta may very well enjoy a quiet retirement. But if he gets the itch to be involved in the game in some way, it wouldn't be shocking to see him turn up as an analyst down the line, either, as it has become a popular practice for media companies to turn to former referees to analyze the current crop of officials during broadcasts.

And maybe he can start a streak of consecutive broadcasts while he's at it.


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