How much money do NBA referees make?

Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons argues with referee Jacyn Goble (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images,)
Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons argues with referee Jacyn Goble (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images,) /

NBA referees are either some of the best or worst in all of professional sports depending on who you ask.

I tend to lean towards the former, though you will certainly find fans who think the NBA is “rigged” (sure) and that nefarious referees are just carrying out the bidding of the evil commissioner whose only goal is to have a Finals every year that involves two teams from the coasts.

Most of the time, the refs get it right, and fans are often jaded by their own biases when it comes to evaluating the officiating. Of course, the other team is always getting away with fouls, and they call everything on your guys, but it’s all subjective.

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Refs are just out there to enforce the rules of the NBA, which change slightly every year, and have to put up with an earful from players and fans who rarely have a nice thing to say.

But before you start feeling sorry for the refs, you should know that they are well paid for the verbal abuse they suffer night after night.

How much money do NBA referees make?

NBA referees are paid based on years of service, with the top guys making upwards of $500,000 per season and the “rookies” making anywhere from $150 to 250k, so it’s not bad work if you can get it.

In the 2022-23 season, veterans like James Capers, Sean Corbin, Tony Brothers and Scott Foster topped referees in salaries at $550,000 or around $7k for regular-season games, $9k for playoffs and up to $30k for games in the NBA Finals.

Which referees are best for the Detroit Pistons?

If you are going by record alone, then it appears that none of the refs have been kind to the Detroit Pistons of late.

Though I do think there is some truth to the assertion that refs give star players more calls, I don’t think the refs have much to do with why the Pistons have been so bad.

You could argue that Cade Cunningham should have gotten more whistles (and he will) and that young teams in general don’t get much benefit of the doubt, and there are certainly refs who fall into these traps.

The Detroit Pistons are above .500 when guys like Matt Boland, Curtis Blair and James Capers Jr. are behind the whistle, but take a huge drop when you look at the games officiated by some of the newer refs like Brandon Adair and John Butler. Detroit has a low winning percentage with these refs, but it’s mostly because they’re relatively new and the Pistons have been bad the entire time they’ve been in the league.

We know certain refs have poor relationships with certain players (Scott Foster and Chris Paul come to mind) but that hasn’t had an effect on the Detroit Pistons, who are still trying to earn the right to be liked or hated by referees.

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