NBA Finals coverage will have an added voice in the booth, and hopefully it makes the fans more informed before blindly expressing rage when a call doesn't go their way. That's the plan from the ESPN decision makers, anyway, because Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch reports that they've hired former referee Steve Javie.
Javie's name should be familiar to those that have followed the NBA for any amount of time as he was one of the more higher-profile referees before retiring during the lockout after 25 years in the business. He says he pitched the idea after being inspired by the success Mike Pereira has had doing a similar job with the NFL.
The veteran official told Deitsch in an interview that he won't so much critique the current referees during the Finals, but will rather explain why they missed calls they probably should have made (see the difference?).
"Now I'm not going to be a jerk about it because these are my guys. But I want to be the voice of the official and tell people, 'Look at this play. Maybe you should have had a whistle here, but here is the reason why they didn't blow it.' I won't be a guy who blasts the officials but at the same time I will be someone who points out to fans that the ref did not get a call right and here's why. It's not necessarily a criticism but an explanation on why a call was missed."
It'll be interesting to see if this ends up being something the NBA adapts on a long-term basis or if Javie will be one-and-done with the 2012 Finals.