As one of the most competitive jobs in the world of basketball, the work that goes into becoming an NBA referee is beyond arduous. Meanwhile, the League is routinely looking to scoop up new talent, assessing over 3,000 officials for its Top 100 grassroots program, where anywhere from four to 13 refs are hired. 

Packaged within a three-year program, the vast amount of foundational knowledge and expertise required for a career as a professional referee has since been restructured by the League to include the Referee Development Program. Aimed at the growing demographic of younger hopefuls, the third inaugural class, which features six individuals, is currently 13 months into
the immersive experience. 

Sitting on the 20th floor of the League’s corporate headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Monty McCutchen, a 25-year veteran official and the Head of Referee Training and Development, explains the daily journey the group undertakes. 

“The RDPs learn the visual syntax of our language. And they’re hearing this all day long, through all the different discussions that we have,” he explains. “By having them in the office, it allows for a much more osmosis-type of learning.”

From Tuesdays to Thursdays, the trainees are schooled in the fundamentals necessary for a lifelong career, while being submerged in the bustling Basketball Operations floor that McCutchen currently occupies.

“If we allow them to learn the craft, then we really believe that they’re gonna go do good work and serve basketball, wherever they may end up,” McCutchen adds. “And I’m really happy that this class, in particular, has embraced this learning.”

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