How to Become a NBA Referee, 6 Steps, Official Ref Requirements

The NBA is one of the world’s premium sports enterprises in which the high-performing players showcase their best abilities that making millions of basketball fans excited. Do you know who is responsible for the success of any game? The burden goes on a referee’s shoulders to evaluate the game according to their advanced training and skills.

The game’s success solely depends on a referee who keeps an eye on the player’s games so the game outcome will be determined fairly. In basketball, referees maintain the integrity of the game and are responsible for fair play. The office is responsible to check that players are not violating the rules and regulations of the game. The NBA Referee is one of the prestigious positions in basketball who is responsible to perform the difficult task of the game. Read more about the basketball referee roles and responsibilities.

Become a NBA Referee

Basketball is ranked as one of the most difficult sports to officiate in which the referee has only split seconds to determine any infraction. A referee must be aware of case-specific interpretations of rules so that he can conduct a fair game. A referee plays a crucial role in almost every big sport like Football, Boxing, Cricket, Rugby, and Hockey. You cannot implement rules and make accurate decisions without a referee that’s the reason the referee goes through extensive training modules to understand the core value and rules of the game.

In National Basketball Association (NBA) three officials perform their responsibilities. A lead official also referred to as crew chief performs his duties along with one referee and one umpire. A referee is not only responsible to maintain the integrity of the game but he also does spectator management, lookout for violations ensures the safety of players, and makes sure equipment is good to use on the court.

People around the globe want to join this prestigious organization but the right candidate should have an exceptional officiating foundation and experience to become a professional NBA referee. There is a road map defined by the NBA in which a candidate goes through the extensive development and training process programs to officiate NBA matches.

6 Requirements to Become a Referee For NBA

The process is not complicated but the journey to becoming an officiate starts from your school. What are the steps and how you can join the league as a referee? I will guide you through the complete details so you can be aware of all the necessary information.

1. Demonstration:

The first road map you have to cover is to demonstrate officiating skills in the live events. The real question is where you can demonstrate your skills or from where you have to take your first start towards officiating live matches? Well, you can show your officiating skills and expertise in:

demonstrate officiating skills in the live events
  • Junior College 
  • High School
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association Camps (NCAA)
  • Professional-Amateur Events (Pro-AM)
  • Intramurals (sports leagues, tournaments, and competitions within the student body)
  • National Tryout
  • RDP
  • International

You can demonstrate your skills by officiating the matches in above organization because if you have good experience, knowledge, and skills regarding officiating basketball matches then you can be selected by the officials. It is recommended to equip you with proper knowledge and skills before going into such events. Be prepared, show your best and advance to the next level.

2. NBA Scouting Group Selection:

Scouting Group Selection

NBA scouts work under NBA and their main goal is to find and evaluate new talent. The NBA Scouts roam around the country for talented players with exceptional abilities. NBA scouts search for new talents at the grassroots level. The scout judges the potential player’s abilities and strengths while officiating the match. After evaluations of the players, the scouts prepare a list of the top 100 candidates for the training and evaluation phase. If you perform exceptionally well and are outstanding, you will be selected by the NBA scouting group.

3. Training and Evaluation Phase:

Training and Evaluation Phase

The training and evaluation phase started after you got selected by the NBA scouts. This is one of the crucial phases on the road to becoming an officiate. The players have to go through the 5 performance standards for advancement to the next phase. The NBA Referee Operations Management Team uses these performance standards to evaluate the player. The player starts from the grassroots camps and then advances to the mid-level. When a player successfully goes through the mid-level phase then he advances to the elite camps. The successful candidates move forward to the next level and the remaining candidates will remain on a monitoring list for the following year. You don’t have to be disappointed if you are not advancing to the next level because you will be called in the upcoming years.

4. Selection in NBA G League:

Now you are close to your dream of becoming an official. The NBA G league which was previously known as NBDL and the NBA D-League represent the NBA official minor league where fresh candidates are prepared to officiate in the NBA Games. The G League hired the top-performing candidates from elite camps and the fresh candidates join the summer league training program or additional new hire orientation sessions.

5. Development Phase:

You are just one step away from your destination of becoming an official in the NBA matches. The player development phase started after the end of the summer league training program or an additional new hire orientation session. The G League referees show their presence in referee preseason Meetings and work games. In the development phase, the G league referees carefully observe the game Observations and begin interactions with the management team.

6. Hiring in NBA:

This is the last phase of the development program. If you have successfully passed through the development then you will be evaluated by the NBA officials and recommended to be the part of NBA as an official referee. After evaluation, you will become a part of the prestigious organization where you will fill full your dream of officiating.

Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How much does a referee make in NBA?

The NBA referee earns a handsome amount of money annually. Referee earns from $150,000 to $550,000 annually. The experienced referees earn 550K $ annually while the new referees can earn up to 150K $. The pay slap can be changed according to the experience. Profession NBA referees can charge 7K $ per match while the fresh referees can charge 2K $ per match.

Is becoming an NBA ref hard?

The basketball rules and regulations are tough therefore if you want to pursue your dream to officiate as an official referee in NBA then you have to go through the six different phases of recruitment, training, and development programs. You have to cover all the extensive training and development programs step by step to officiating NBA matches.

Who is the youngest NBA referee?

In NBA history the Youngest NBA referee who officiate an NBA match was Ed T. Rush. He becomes part of the NBA as a referee in 1966, at the age of 24.

Do you have to go to college to be an NBA referee?

This is the first step in pursuing your dream to officiate NBA matches as a referee. Prior experience to officiate live events in your high school or Junior College is compulsory. When you show your exceptional skills and abilities in these events then you will be selected by the NBA scout group team.

If you want to become an NBA referee then you have to follow the above-mentioned steps. You can explore new possibilities, enhance your officiating experience faster and become more skillful and sophisticated in officiating the NBA events by going through the mentioned process.

You have to be calm as the process can be long but in the end, you will fill full your dreams of officiating NBA events. You can also register yourself with the NBA officiating program by filling out the forum at this . I recommend you to join your school and basketball team to gain experience as a referee and then you can move forward to the advanced stages to become an official in NBA. I hope you will get all the necessary information here so you can easily pursue your path to becoming an NBA referee.

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