I think you are right on the money . . . calling every possible
violation in a basketball game would slow the game considerably, make
the game one of outside shooting, and cause millions of people to grab
their remote controls and look for animal planet (which I love by the
way :o) or some other more exciting site.
On a personal note, years back when I was a basketball official (high
school and college) we were taught that it was best for all concerned
to let the play develop - to permit the natural movements in the game.
The official should blend into the background and not be the dominant
force out on the floor. The trick, they said, was to develop a
consistent line and technique, a line that should not be crossed, but
a line where on the one side, the kids could play ball, but on the
other side, were not creating an unfair disadvantage that prevented
the fair play of the game.
On a more "official" note (don't pardon the pun):
Trainers of officials teach a number of useful techniques. One example
is the "Advantage/Disadvantage" doctrine which can be defined as "The
ability to apply a rule based on the circumstances of each situation."
Here is an example: In a basketball game, a player from Team B drives
to the basket and is brushed by a defensive player. The minor contact
does not cause the Team B player to lose control of the ball or to
lose his balance. The player shoots a lay-up and scores. Because the
contact was minimal and did not affect the play, the official applied
the advantage/disadvantage principle and allowed the game to continue.
This is good officiating. http://start.officiating.com/faq/9
Another example is "Preventive Officiating." The folks at
start.officiating.com use an example where, early in the game, there
might be a frequent violation of a rule (say, a three second
violation) and they point out that the official, rather than slowing
the game by calling a number of violations, might consider talking to
the players and informing them to get out of the lane. If they fail to
listen to your advice - whistle 'em.
In the NBA, the game officials are the crew chief and two referees.
They are assisted by an official scorer and two trained timers. The
rules for the NBA and the NCAA can be found here (they are very
I think you'll enjoy these: Krantz's Laws for Basketball Officials
(Example: TRAVERS' RULE #2: Don't screw the defense. There is an
awful lot that a defensive man can do legally before he is charged
with a foul. Do not give the offense an unfair advantage.)
There is an interesting statistical profile contained at
http://www.covers.com/data/nba/nba_refs.html for each of the NBA
Enjoy the playoffs. They say that basketball officiating is the
toughest kind of officiating there is. It is so fast - and the play so
furious. And at the NBA and NCAA Div I level the play is so physical
under the basket. Those "zebras" earn their money!
Please let me know if you would like any clarification on any specific
aspects. I will be glad to chime back in!!