Top 10 Highest Paid NBA Referees

The average salary for an NBA referee is between 100,000$ to 550,000$ per year. The job profile of an NBA referee involves hard training and great ability for observations. The NBA referees have a full-time job. They are required to know all of the rules and must be able to make a difficult decision during the games. Referees that are just starting out in NBA make 60,000$ to 100,000$ and they are not involved in playoff games because they don’t have much experience. In the women’s division the referees do not make as much, they make 16,000 per year. They work a shorter season because there are only 10 teams that play 34 regular-season games. We present you ours top 10 highest paid NBA Referees.

10. Dick Bavetta-Salary: 60,000$ 

Bavetta is most experienced referee with 2,600 games in the NBA. Bavetta is famous because of the game between the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks. In that game the ten players was tossed. At the end of his career and retiring, he devoted himself in charitable works for children with cancer and HIV.

9. Violet Palmer-Salary: 80,000$

It’s time for a lady. She was the first woman referee an NBA playoff in the April 25, 2006, match between the New Jersey Nets and Indiana Pacers. Palmers attended college Cal Poly Pomona. She played basketball for Cal Poly Pomona on the position of point guard. Palmer did a great job for the NBA, she became the first female referee on All-Star Game. On July 6, 2015, Palmer became the coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Western Athletic Conference. Palmer was the highest paid women referee with 80,000$ per season. 

8. Zack Zarba-Salary:100,000$

Zarba was born in Brooklyn and he attended Midwood High School. He graduated with a degree in Political and today he works for the EBC High School in Bushwick. The season 2004/5 was the rookie year for Zarba. Zarba has 697 regular games and 27 playoff games. He is famous because he was the referee in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto.


7. Tim Donaghy – Salary: 110,000$

Tim Donaghy was called a bad boy of the NBA referees. Donaghy was in NBA for 13 seasons. Before the 2007-2008 season, Donaghy resigned from the league because investigation by the FBI for games betting. Donaghy was charged with 500,000$. His referee career was in shadow because of the incident with gambling. Tim Donaghy stepped away from the NBA and in 2016 he released documentary movie  Dirty Games.

6. Steve Javie – Salary:112,000$

Steve Javie has a reputation for his rapid finger. Javier was against the rough game. He was referee in 18 NBA finals games. Javie had a lot of incidents with players because his rapid finger. During an NBA season, Javie was fined with 1,000 dollars because of verbal fight.. 2011-2012 was a last Javie season. Javie has a charity group with his wife for the homeless and disabled children.

5. Haywoode Wilvon Workman –Salary: 115,000$

Haywoode Workman is a young referee who spent $ 100,000 a year. He attended Winston-Salem University. He was a great player in college with 17.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.9 steals. After good games on college he become the member of the hall of fame Oral Roberts. After college, he went to NBA. Haywoode was drafted from the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. He played side by side with legends like Reggie Miller and Michael Adams. After Atlanta Hawks, he played in Italy for Scavolini Pesaro. After European league, he landed with the Pacers. In 1996, he ended up with a ligament injury on his left knee. After the knee injury, he wasn’t the same player and that was the end of his career. In July 2003, Workman started as a referee in NBA summer league in Boston. He started as a referee in NBA in 2006-2007. Now he is trying to get former players to work as referees, because as he says, “The game can be judged only by the one who played it before”. 

4. Danny Crawford – Salary: 120,000$

Danny Crawford is a legend of the NBA referees. He is the oldest referee with most seasons. Danny made his 23rd straight NBA Finals apperances in game 1 of the 2017 Finals. Crawford grew up in East Garfield Park in Chicago. In 1976 Crawford graduated from Northeastern Illinois University. On college, he played on the position of the guard. His referee career began in high school, then junior college, and then Division 1 college basketball. Crawford first NBA game came in the season 1984-1985. Crawford was so passioned about his job and he thinks every referee need to feel the energy in the stadium. Danny had a lot of experience and that is the reason of his 120,000$ a year.

3. Ron Garretson – Salary : 127,000$

Ron Garretson attended High School in Anaheim. In High School he played basketball and football. Thanks to good results he earned an Associate of Arts degree from Golden West Junior College. Garretson started with NBA in1987. He become famous because on-court incident with Lakers player, NIck Van Exel. Garretson called a first technical foul on Nick for arguing. Lakers guard continued to argue and he called Ron a little midget, after that Van Exel was automatically ejected. Later, Van Exel was fined with $ 25,000 for insulting a referee during the match. Maybe Garretson is a strict NBA referee, but he earn 127,000$ a year.

2. Ken Mauer – Salary: 145,000$

Ken  Mauer Mauer graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1977. At college Mauer was named an All-Big Ten Player and he was a Minnesota college baseball player. Ken Mauer comes from a sports family. Ken’s four brothers and father were all referees. His brother Tom Mauer is a referee in the Women’s National Basketball Association.The Highlight of his referee career is 2006 NBA finals between Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. His first game in championship series was Game 3. Ken Mauer is famous because during the game between Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs match Mauer called five technical fouls in ten seconds. Because of the great ability of observation he is one oft he best-payed referees in NBA. Mauer’s hobbies are traveling and cars.

1. Joseph Crawford– Salary. 166,000$ 

Joseph Crawford  Joesph is recently retired professional basketball referee who worked in NBA from 1977 till 2016. Joseph is coming from sports family. His father Shag Crawford was a Major Leauge Baseball umpire from 1956 to 1975. His brother Jerry was a major league umpire from 1976 to 2010. He is famous for his strictest reputation for assessing technical fouls. On April 15, 2007, Crawford clashed with the best player of San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan. While Duncan was on the bench he was laughing at Crawford during the game against the Dallas Mavericks. After that, Crawford was suspended for the remain of the season 2006-2007 and Tim Duncan was punished whit 25,000$ for verbal abuse. Crawford admitted the incident between Tim Duncan and him was one of the biggest regrets of his career. Joseph Crawford worked 313 playoff and 50 NBA Finals and that is record of the league. He appeared in 29 of the last 30 NBA finals series. Crawford was referee on the All-Star Game in 1986, 1992 and 2000. 2015-2016 NBA season was his last season because he suffered the knee injury. After 39-year career and 2,561 regular-season games. Crawford is enjoying in his retirement because he was the best paid NBA referee in last 6 years with 166,000$ per year. 

NBA referees are not so popular because when we are watching NBA games the only thing what we see is big basketball superstars with big contracts. But we are thinking that referee job is beautiful because every referee has a big story behind him, how he started the career. Today the referee job is much harder than before 25 years because the game is faster, so the right decision needs to be decided in the second. Maybe they are not popular like players, but they are making good money. 


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