Longtime NBA referee Dick Bavetta eclipsed former Major League Baseball player Cal Ripken’s ironman streak, working his 2,633rd straight regular-season game on Wednesday night when the Brooklyn Nets faced the New York Knicks.
The league paid tribute to Bavetta before the game with a commemorative plaque and a basketball given to him by NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn.
The 74-year-old Bavetta started working NBA games in 1975. In addition to 82 regular-season games per season, Bavetta has officiated 270 playoff games, 27 NBA Finals games and three All-Star Games. His resume includes the 1992 Summer Olympics.
“Well, it means that I am here and alive and happy,” Bavetta said, according to ESPN. “And it doesn’t end here as they say. After tonight, there is another game. That is what we (do). I am just blessed that the ironman streak has been broken here (at Madison Square Garden), I couldn’t ask for something any better.
“I can’t think of any reason unless it’s an act of God with weather problems and things like that, but I’ve been blessed by the good Lord above with good health. So that has enabled me to stay healthy over the years and I think it’s symbolic of our profession.”
Nothing has stopped Bavetta — inclement weather, travel problems and injury — from making his rounds in the NBA.
“Oh, I have had many close calls over the years,” Bavetta said. “We are contracted to do 82 games just like the teams. Unfortunately, we don’t get 41 home games, so we are on the road quite often. It is something that becomes a part of your life.”
Bavetta plans to sit down after the season with his family to decide whether or not to return next year.
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