Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Worst Possible Partner

An almagamation of bad moments over my career. Hyperbole is used, but only slightly.

Worst Possible Partner walks into the officials' changing room 15 minutes before tipoff, talking on his cell phone. I had to assume that I'd be working a two-man game with the other partner, but when WPP arrives, our harried discussion of two-man mechanics ends. We heave a misplaced sigh of relief and head to the floor. WPP continues his cell-phone conversation until we're approaching the court, where he pockets his cellphone. He then introduces himself and insists on being the referee. Good Partner and I, shocked, decide not to fight that battle. Our mistake.

When I ask when we'll step out to talk to captains and coaches, WPP rolls his eyes. "I don't do that for non-varsity matchups," he says. "Nobody cares." We go out and do it anyway. WPP leads a brief, perfunctory chat with the visiting coach, but then talks with the head coach, who he has "worked with for years," for about five minutes, laughing it up. I don't feel like I can leave my partner alone with this coach, but even WPP deserves to have his partner stay by his side. Still, I manage to slink over to chat with the table personnel. He later says I shouldn't have done that, since he's the referee and I'm merely the U1. We go back to the other side of the court, where he talks to his girlfriend in the second row. "She had to drive me here," he says, "because I took three Percoset today." Three? Good Partner and I are stunned. "Yeah--I had my wisdom teeth out today. Check it out!" He then draws back his lips to expose the new, blood-filled holes in the back of his mouth, holes which Good Partner and I do not want to see.

Good Partner and I are hauling ourselves up and down the court in this JV game. WPP is not. He appears disinterested...jogging 2/3 of the way up the court, then walking to his position as Lead, his back to the play even as the fast breaker zips to the lane behind him. (This is especially annoying because when I saw this ref do a bigger, varsity game, he ran very well.) "He's mailing it in," I hear the chirpy coach say behind me during a free throw. I can't argue with that: my partner is standing with his arms crossed, looking at the ceiling. Still, chirpy coaches need to be dealt with. I chat with the coach briefly while the ball is being brought up the floor. I then see the only hustle my partner will exhibit all night: he blows his whistle in order to run over and yell. Not at the coach. At me.

At halftime, WPP whines nonstop about association politics, saying that biased evaluators are holding him down. He then talks smack about his last three partners. He laughs and looks at me knowingly. I wonder what he'll say about me to the next guy. I never bash partners, but I decide that I can make an exception to the rule to bash WPP, and begin composing this blog entry in my mind.

The game is a two-point spread with a minute to go. During a time out, Good Partner and I get together to talk about time-outs, three-point coverage, the foul situation, etc. WPP doesn't immediately join us, electing instead to shoot hoops and chat with his girlfriend. We call him over. He says "Oh, you want to talk to me?"

The game ends. I dread the conversation in the locker room. No need to worry--he gets his cellphone out before we get out of our stripes.


At 3:45 AM, Blogger tommyspoon said...

And now what, pray tell, do you do? You're not gonna let WPP give all y'all a bad name are you? Why should this guy continue officiating?

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Blogging Ref said...


You forgot the first line. This isn't one partner...it's many, many partners fused into one guy. Mostly, these are good (or at least decent) officials who did one thing to piss me off one time. There's one exception...an individual who is responsible for 3 or 4 of these...but the association knows about that person, and he/she is already on probation.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Joe said...

Great piece! Looks like the kind of thing that might get run on the last page of a referee's magazine if you beefed it up a bit...

Just sayin'. :-)

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Joe said...

(And by last page, I mean the coveted Inside Back Cover Column spot, not the "where can we best hide this tripe" spot...)

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Blogging Ref said...

Well, partner-bashing is not only bad karma, it's fairly out of character for me. I could flesh this into a "what image are you portraying?" kind of article if anyone wanted it, but I'd rather not publish something in column form with this much bitching in it.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Joe said...

And once again we see that you're just a nicer guy than I am. :-)

I guess my take on it is that everybody has had this "what an awful partner" experience, and one of the best things you can do about it is laugh. (And then check yourself in the mirror, as you say.)

I still think it's the bones of a funny, non-bitchy column... but only if it's an idea you want to spend more time with and a style you want to develop.

If not, it's still a good post.


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