A referee with 13 years of experience in the league is the new head of the officials
The NBA announced on Monday (19) the appointment of Kane Fitzgerald as the new Vice President of Referee Operations and Replay Center Principal. The New Jersey officer replaces Jason Philips, who has been at Secaucus’s play review center for three years.
Fitzgerald is 41 years old and spent 13 seasons on the NBA courts. Until last, he acted as the main referee in the regular period and the playoffs, and since 2019 he has been part of the trios that whistle finals. On the occasion of his debut in these decisive games of the title, he stated that, for him, the critical thing for the function would be
“discipline on and off the court, and composure at all times.”
This motto may reflect precisely the message that the NBA may want to send for a season that will begin on October 18, after some facts such as the severe refereeing errors in this year’s EuroBasket and the release of the documentary Untold – Operation Flagrant Foul: austerity.
In his 13-year tenure within the NBA arenas, Kane has always proven to be a strict professional by the book, which led him to be, in 2017, the first referee to eject LeBron James during a Miami Heat-Cleveland Cavaliers game. He also, until the 2020/21 season, was the referee who gave the most offensive fouls to the players who sought the basket – and this rule was one of those that the NBA requested increased attention from its officers.
Removing a referee from the courts who, except for injuries or particular demands, would have more than 20 valuable seasons in the function may seem hasty. Still, it meets an old need from franchise owners and managers – Mark Cuban, for example, has always been publicly vocal about his complaints about officiating during Dallas Mavericks games.
With the ghosts of corruption practiced by former referee Tim Donaghy brought to light again by Netflix and the increasingly explicit and aggressive presence of betting companies on the NBA courts, only time will tell whether Fitzgerald will be able to print the same rigor of his performances in the games of his former colleagues – and now subordinates.