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Public Referee Discipline

Did you see that referee Bill Kennedy was fined by the NBA for his role in an argument with Doc Rivers?

The last line of this AP report is not something you'll often see:

Rivers was penalized Thursday. He was irate following the Celtics' 127-121 loss at Chicago on Tuesday night, after he got whistled for his second technical foul in the final minute. That led to an automatic ejection and a rant against referee Bill Kennedy.

After John Salmons' basket gave the Bulls a 124-119 lead with 29.8 seconds left, the Celtics called a timeout and then Rivers got tossed.

The league also fined referee Kennedy an undisclosed amount.

My first reaction is, well what happened?: If the NBA is willing to let us know that a referee did something wrong, why not just tell us the actual story? What's the deal? Why all the secrecy? What did Bill Kennedy do that was so bad?

But then I back off, take a deep breath, and realize: This is all new to the NBA. Of course, they have been fining and punishing referees forever, but for the most part they haven't really been in the business of admitting to the public that referees make mistakes. It used to all be behind closed doors (and there is the idea that a referee's personnel file maybe ought not to be in the media -- they didn't sign up, nor do they get paid, for the degree of media scrutiny that the players can expect).

The information age -- with Tivo, and YouTube, and bloggers and the like -- has forced the NBA's hand, and to their credit, they're adjusting. There have been more and more such admissions lately.

Baby steps.