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Photo of Darell Garretson

Darell Garretson

As a person who paved the way for modern NBA officiating, Darell Garretson started his career as a referee in the high school and college ranks before joining the NBA in 1967. Garretson spent 27 years blowing the whistle and during that time he officiated more than 2,000 NBA games including 41 NBA Finals games and five NBA All-Star games. Serving as the NBA Chief of Officiating Staff from 1981-1998, Garretson spearheaded changes being made to the league’s officiating and introduced the concept of “refereeing the defense,” the method whereby officials watch the defensive player rather than the basketball. He was instrumental in starting the first union for NBA referees, implementing the three-man officiating crew, and training new referees. Garretson was a fair and impartial judge on the court, traits that endeared him to players and coaches alike.




March 18, 1932 Long Point, IL


April 21, 2008

Career Stats

Formed first referee union
National Association of Basketball
27 Years Officiating
for the NBA
1981-98 Served as NBA
Chief of Officiating Staff
2,000+ NBA games officiated
including regular season and playoffs
41 NBA Finals
1967 Year he started
officiating NBA games