In a largely symbolic maneuver, the NBA has created a new position.
As response to the loss of credibility generated by cheating scandals, the league has commissioned a senior vice president for referee operations.
Certainly, the coupling of poor refereeing and cheating has pushed the league to the point that salvaging any fan confidence in the NBA's credibility will take massive effort and genuine regulatory oversight.
Ronald L. Johnson, a two-star general who recently retired from active duty as deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will be responsible for all aspects of the NBA's officiating program, including recruiting, training and development, scheduling, data management and analysis, and work rules enforcement.
While a military commander certainly is attention getting, is appointing such an individual truly the optimal solution?
Johnson said in a statement. "Although I don't have a basketball background, other than as a lifelong fan, I am confident that my experience as an Army commander and engineer has equipped me to bring leadership and innovation to the NBA's exceptional officiating program."
Indeed. When corruption and institutional lack of control are in question, most would call in the Army Corps of Engineers to solve the problem.
"Ron's wealth of leadership and management experience, together with his engineering expertise in areas such as systems analysis, processes, and operations, make him an ideal candidate to lead our officiating program," commissioner David Stern said.
While we respect Gen. Johnson's resume, we still question if this is the best route for the league to take. Certainly, systems analysis and quality improvement are nice touches; but the problem is the corruption that existed (or exists) and how that corruption now marries with the fans' perception of there being many, many bad calls.
Analysis and process review are wonderful tools, but do they address that which is broken here?
There are two simpler and better options.
Option one: Bring in a prison warden.
Prison wardens are leaders, problem solvers and administrators all rolled into one. They are used to dealing with the soulless parasites of society who would take the opportunity to scavenge off the hard work of others. This is a perfect match!
As the predominately white, corrupt officials manipulate the outcomes of the games to fulfill their corruptery promises; who suffers? The predominately Negro players. That's who.
Players who live and die for the outcome of the games. Working themselves to near death in practices (see Allen Iverson) for the chance at glory and victory. Only to see the dream extinguished when a predominately white referee fears losing his vig!
We can go back to dressing the refs in the prison tradition of black and white stripes.
Option two: Enforce a ruling that the racial composition of the referee pool should match that of the league.
This would effectively do away with the majority of the slithery, white caucazoids and their weakness for gambling.
Additionally, it would probably allow for less conflict between players and refs, as there would be a far better avenue of communication through shared cultured.
This plan provides a positive boost for the league's image and fan perception.
So, clearly, while the NBA's current solution seems --at face value-- to offer possibilities for improvement; it doesn't address the root cause of the problem.
And more importantly, it doesn't bring race into the equation.
Nice try, NBA, but we see right through your smoke and mirrors...constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers.