'Serious defects' addressed in second meeting

NEW YORK --- NBA official Michael Henderson will return
to the court following a meeting Friday with league executives
termed "constructive" by a representative of the referees union.

"He's anxious to get back to work," said National Basketball
Referees Association spokesman Lamell McMorris, who did not
attend the meeting but spoke with Henderson afterward.

Henderson's meeting was followed by another meeting of NBA and
NBRA personnel at which both sides discussed what McMorris
characterized as "serious defects" in a system that "must be
addressed with a sense of urgency to prevent a Michael Henderson
scenario from re-occurring."

In his third year as a referee, Henderson was publicly
reprimanded and privately suspended with pay eight days ago
after missing a call that directly led to the Los Angeles Lakers
defeating the Denver Nuggets. McMorris called his removal

The NBRA blasted the suspension and staged a protest a week ago
as 28 of 30 referees working games obscured the NBA logo on
their shirts by wearing them inside out with Henderson's No. 62
penned on the back. NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said
the officials staging the protest would be disciplined.

"The recent events surrounding the NBA officials clearly
demonstrate that any negativity shown by the league to its
referees is felt in the fabric of the game," McMorris said.

In meeting with Henderson, NBA officials "went through things to
help him become a better referee," said McMorris, who did not
know where Henderson ranked among the NBA's 59 officials.

That grading process was among the subjects of the second
meeting. McMorris, the lead negotiator for the union, was
joined by NBRA general counsel Rudy Fuentes and executive board
members Steve Javie, Derrick Stafford and Joe DeRosa.

On the NBA side were Granik, general counsel Richard Buchanan
and senior vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson,
who originally announced Henderson's reprimand.

Also on hand were the originators of the referee performance and
evaluation system, which McMorris categorized as

"In theory, we believe it's a good program. It's just not being
managed effectively," McMorris said.

Last summer, the NBA broke the supervisor of officials into
three new departments. Former referee Ronnie Nunn was named
director of officials, former referee Ed T. Rush was named
director of officiating programs and Paul Brazeau was named
director of basketball operations and officiating performance

"Through effective communication and a transparent evaluation
system, the NBRA and NBA will achieve proper accountability,
trust and fairness," McMorris said. "Any deviation from these
standards will not be beneficial to the referees and the
league." Henderson, 43, initially was to meet with league
officials Tuesday but had the meeting pushed back due to stress
and anxiety caused by the recent developments. He did not have
legal representation at the meeting.

McMorris is in his first year as lead negotiator for the union,
which also is in the final year of its contract with the league.

"Our desire is to get several provisions into the next
collective bargaining agreement," McMorris said.

In the Lakers-Nuggets game on February 25, Denver's Andre Miller
took a shot that hit the rim and was rebounded by teammate
Carmelo Anthony. That should have reset the shot clock with 27
seconds to play and the Nuggets holding the ball and a two-point
lead, but Henderson blew his whistle and indicated a shot-clock

An inadvertent whistle was ruled, leading to a jump ball won by
the Lakers, who got a 3-pointer from Kareem Rush for a 112-111

A former member of the Harlem Globetrotters, Henderson had
worked fewer than 100 games entering this season but spent five
seasons in the USBL and four in the WNBA and CBA.