G League referee trio get NBA games amid virus issues


The virus outbreak hasn’t just sent NBA teams to seek help from the G League. The NBA refereeing body had to do the same.

A trio of G League officials – Tyler Mirkovich, Clare Aubry and Pat O’Connell – were awarded games on Friday, the NBA debut for all three. It was the first time the NBA had to call G League officials to work on games this season.

Mirkovich was assigned to Phoenix in Boston, Aubry got Atlanta in Cleveland, and O’Connell was picked for New York in Oklahoma City.

“I think the whole league is in a worried place,” said Monty McCutchen, the former official who is now an NBA executive overseeing all referee matters. “We want our league to be healthy and we want the players to feel safe and healthy. We want coaches and staff to feel that health and safety is a priority and the same goes for referees. “

None of the three G League referees called on Friday even made it to an NBA preseason game. But with around a third of the league’s referees unable to work at the moment, mostly due to coronavirus-related reasons and a few due to injury, the NBA had no choice but to seek help.

“We have people with health and safety protocols. It’s no secret, ”McCutchen said. “And we are using people in the G League who we have great trust who can give us that temporary cover that we need.”

The NBA kicked off on Friday with around 120 players at different stages of the protocols. Also on the sidelines on Friday: Seven head coaches and dozens of other staff, including assistant coaches, athletic coaches, media relations staff and more.

Around 100 G League players have signed deals with the NBA in recent weeks as teams have had to fill out rosters due to all the issues with the virus. League players and coaches applauded these players for their luck.

“It’s difficult to get here. It’s tough, ”Washington goalie Bradley Beal said. “I think a lot of people misinterpreted it. They think a lot of the things we do are easy, they think it’s easy to get into the league. It’s not, man. And then you have so many guys in the G who deserve to be here. These guys really deserve spots and a lot of them just don’t have this opportunity. A lot of guys are fortunate enough to be able to have opportunities and a lot of them take advantage of it.

It is unclear whether assistance to G League officials will continue after Friday. There were 10 games scheduled for Friday, meaning 30 referees had to be selected for those games – excluding the other four chosen to work in the NBA’s replay center.

The daily schedule gets a little lighter over the next two days: six games are scheduled for Saturday, seven for Sunday. There’s no more 10-game roster until Monday, and it’s possible some of the protocols may be working again by then.

“I think it’s a short-term need,” McCutchen said. “Like everyone, we live in real time and make real time decisions that serve the league. The job of the referees is to serve the league and as a management team our job is to serve the league at the highest level possible at all times, given the circumstances.

McCutchen said he has no doubts the G League referees are ready. Over the past four years, the NBA has started training all referees – NBA, G League, WNBA and now Basketball Africa League – the same way, to the same standards.

“I have no doubts that if we are to rely on them, they will perform,” said McCutchen.

Aubry is now the 14th female referee assigned to an NBA regular season game. The league has six full-time female referees this season and four more designated as non-staff.

Aubry is also a men’s basketball official at the Atlantic Coast Conference, making what was considered history in mid-November as the first woman to officiate a Georgia Tech men’s basketball game when the Yellow Jackets faced Lamar.

“I think she did a great job,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said after that game. “She is a great civil servant. She officiates in the G League and she will be in the NBA. We are lucky that the CCA is able to have top officials and she is one of them. She is a high level official.

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