Who Are The Best NBA Refs?

Best NBA Refs

The NBA is full of talented, dedicated referees who work hard to officiate their games. Refs must be able to keep up with the fast-paced action on the court while maintaining order and fairness between both teams.

Best Referees In NBA History:

Ken Mauer

Ken Mauer
Ken Mauer NBA Referee

Ken Mauer is widely regarded as one of the best referees in the history of the NBA, with an impressive record of 1,717 regular seasons and 229 playoff games officiated. Throughout his career, he has been praised for his ability to handle intense moments with a calm demeanor and sense of fairness. His impartiality and respect for players earned him widespread admiration from fans and athletes.

Mauer was known for consistently enforcing rules and refusing to be swayed by public opinion or outside pressures. He also had a knack for making timely calls while allowing players to express their emotions without overstepping the boundaries of league regulations. His approach to officiating has become an example of what it looks like when referees are respected as professionals capable of making difficult decisions in high-pressure situations.

Tim Donaghy

Tim Donaghy
Tim Donaghy NBA Referee

When it comes to the NBA, one of the most iconic referees in its history is Tim Donaghy. First joining the league in 1994, Donaghy served for 13 seasons as a referee, officiating 772 regular season games and 20 playoff games. He was known for his fiery temper and strict adherence to the rules—qualities that made him respected by players and staff.

Donaghy’s career ended abruptly when he became embroiled in a gambling scandal, resulting in his suspension from the NBA. Despite this, Donaghy remains one of the best-known referees to officiate an NBA game due to his long tenure and no-nonsense approach to policing basketball. His contributions have earned him a place among some of the most famous successful referees in professional basketball, who are often credited with helping shape the sport into what it is today.

Mendy Rudolph

Mendy Rudolph
Mendy Rudolph NBA Referee

Mendy Rudolph was one of the most iconic referees in the history of the NBA. He served as a referee for 22 years, from 1953 to 1975, and officiated 2,112 games, eight NBA All-Star games, and 22 consecutive NBA Finals. His tenure was one of the longest ever recorded by an NBA referee, and he is often considered one of the best basketball referees in league history.

Rudolph’s reputation as a fair and competent ref earned him respect among many players, coaches, and fans. He consistently applied rules with accuracy while also displaying great composure when faced with heated situations on the court. His approachable nature made him popular among all basketball players during his era.

Joey Crawford

Joey Crawford
Joey Crawford NBA Referee

Joey Crawford has been an NBA referee for 39 years and counting. His career as a ref has seen him officiate every NBA Finals since 1986, making him one of the most experienced referees in the league. Not only is Crawford’s longevity impressive, but the media and players have lauded his performance on the court.

He is known for his stern style of officiating, which has earned him respect from both players and coaches throughout his tenure with the NBA. His skills as an official are such that he was even chosen to referee the 2008 All-Star Game. It is no surprise that Crawford ranks highly among fans when discussing who are some of the best officials in basketball.

Earl Strom

Earl Strom
Earl Strom NBA Ref

Earl Strom is one of the best legendary NBA referees in history. He officiated 29 years in the NBA, earning a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. His tenure as an official was marked by countless memorable moments and accolades, including being named one of the top 10 famous NBA referees of all time by Sports Illustrated.

Strom’s career was most noteworthy for his ability to handle difficult situations with poise and professionalism. Fans were often surprised when Strom emerged from a heated altercation, with both teams still respecting him and his decisions. His style wasn’t always popular nor easy to understand, but it provided consistency to a chaotic game. Players and coaches knew what they were getting when Earl Strom stepped on the court.

Who Is The Richest NBA Referee?

A veteran of 25 years in the league, Brothers is estimated to make around $550,000 per year from his refereeing duties. He’s worked some of the biggest games in basketball history and has developed a reputation for being thorough, fair-minded, and consistently accurate with his calls. This makes him one of its highest earners!


How much do NBA refs make?

Experienced or professional referees earn a salary of $3,500 per game, which can accumulate to as much as $550,000 per year.

Who is the highest paid nba referee in 2023?

In 2023, James Capers is recognized as the highest-earning NBA Referee, with an estimated annual income of $550,000. Additionally, he receives $9,000 for every playoff game he officiates. Capers has a rich history in the NBA, having presided over more than 1,500 games during his 28-season career, which began in the realm of high school basketball.

Why do basketball referees have numbers?

Basketball referees are assigned numbers to distinguish them from one another, much like players. This system facilitates communication and identification during games. Each referee’s number is unique, making it easier to document and evaluate their performance in a particular match.

What does a two-way contract mean in the NBA?

A two-way contract in the NBA is a specific type of player contract that allows a player to alternate between an NBA team and its affiliate in the NBA G League. This contract structure permits teams to cultivate talent while providing additional flexibility within their roster. Players under a two-way contract can spend up to 45 days with their NBA team during the G League season, while spending the remainder of the season with the G League affiliate. The NBA team can decide to convert the two-way contract into a standard NBA contract if they wish to retain the player on the NBA roster beyond the 45-day limit.


Best NBA Refs
Who Are The Best NBA Refs-infographics


NBA referees are some of the most highly esteemed and respected officials in all of the sports. Referees must not only make difficult calls but also be able to adjust them on the fly while managing the environment around them. It is no surprise that certain refs rise to the top and become known as the best in their field. Although they may not get much recognition, they are appreciated by those who understand what goes into officiating a professional basketball game.