A referee’s debut isn’t normally a big deal, but if you watched Knicks vs. Blazers in the Summer League on Monday night you got to see something special.
Richard Jefferson, who played for eight teams over his 18 year career and won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016, decided to try his hand at refereeing. It was a sobering experience to put himself on the other side of officiating, and the crowd wasn’t willing to treat him any differently just because he was a former player.
I think this is delightful. Personally, I’d like to see more retired NBA players try their hands at refereeing. We don’t need them to officiate important, playoff-critical games or anything silly like that — but the Summer League was made for try out officials like this. We could have Chuck, Shaq and Kenny officiate one, bring in Dennis Rodman for others — hell, we could even get silly with a game refereed by LaVar Ball, because why not?
At least the fans in attendance were fair and supported Jefferson when he got a call right as well.
When it was all said and done people had some strong feelings about RJ on the court as a ref, and Andre Iguodala took the chance to make fun of him — at least I think this is a burn, but it might also be a compliment?
Rich really look like a ref…. And ion mean that in a nice way
— andre (@andre) July 12, 2022
If you’re wondering why Jefferson would subject himself to a night of roasting on the court and working a game as a ref when he never needed to, there’s actually a pretty great justification behind it.
Why do this?
1. Tremendous amount of knowledge about our game that I’ve learned sitting in classes with the best refs in the world
2.I do this because not many people would dare put themselves in this position. The more info I have the more informed I am as a broadcaster
— Richard Jefferson (@Rjeff24) July 11, 2022
You gotta respect the man for trying to hone his craft at a time nobody really asked him, or expected him to. We don’t expect this to become a long-term thing for Jefferson, but at least we got a glimpse into what he would be like as a ref — and the stat line to prove it.
Great job RJ, we hope to see you back on the court in the ref gray again soon.