A date has been set for a meeting between players and referees to clear the air amid ongoing strife between the two factions. Three representatives from each side will meet Feb. 17 in Los Angeles during All-Star weekend, possibly with the aid of a moderator.
"I’m looking forward to it," National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts told USA Today Sports' Sam Amick. "I think it will be both spirited and enlightening. Even the conversations I’ve had with Lee (Seham, general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association), there have been things that I have not, frankly, been aware of in terms of the kinds of pressures that (officials) are under. So, I think it’s a useful step."
NBA referees have come under fire in recent weeks, as players have begun to speak more freely about their frustrations over missed or incorrect calls, highlighted by several game-changing missteps.
LeBron James was adamant that he was fouled by Kevin Durant in crunch time in the Cavaliers' 99-92 Christmas Day loss to the Warriors. Just three days later, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a game-winning dunk over Russell Westbrook - despite stepping out of bounds right in front of an official. The league's last-two-minute reports later confirmed that calls were missed in both scenarios.
Players have found that openly talking about their discontentment can be a costly exercise. Thunder big man Patrick Patterson was fined $10,000 for coarsely calling out officials on Twitter after a loss to the Bucks, and Warriors forward Draymond Green was fined $25,000 for comments about the fraying relationship between players and referees. Green said: "It's ruining the game. It should be one of, if not the main priority, to be solved. It definitely should."
"A lot of it is personal," Green added. "When you give someone so much authority and they make it me against you, you can't overcome that."