Friday , Feb , 27 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

NBA blows whistle on Henderson; officials protest

New York, NY (Sports Network) – NBA official Michael Henderson received an
unprecedented three-game suspension from the league after his inadvertent
whistle during Wednesday’s game between Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers may
have cost the Nuggets a victory.

To protest Henderson’s suspension, all of the NBA officials turned their
jerseys inside-out during Friday night’s games and wore his No. 62 on the

The NBA said Henderson mistakenly blew the whistle signaling a shot-clock
violation against Denver with 27.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and
the Nuggets leading 111-109.

Replays indicated Andre Miller got his shot off before the 24-second clock
expired and that the ball caromed off the bottom of the rim. Carmelo Anthony
grabbed the rebound for Denver, which should have been awarded a new shot

However, because of the errant whistle, the referees were forced to rule a
jump ball at mid-court. The Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal won the tap and Los
Angeles went on to win the game 112-111 when Kareem Rush drained a three-
pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining.

“This was an unfortunate call at a highly critical point in the game, and we
very much regret the error,” said Stu Jackson, the NBA’s senior vice president
of basketball operations.

The decision to suspend Henderson drew harsh criticism from the National
Basketball Referees Association, which represents the NBA’s 59 officials.

The NBRA sent a letter Friday to Jackson in response to the action taken
against Henderson.

“The NBA’s decision to place the referee on a three-game suspension for an
error in judgment is unacceptable,” said Lamell McMorris, spokesperson for the
NBRA and president and CEO of Perennial Strategy Group, which is responsible
for lead contract negotiations with the league on behalf of the referees.
“This will have a chilling effect on a referee’s willingness to make close

Henderson was also summoned to New York to meet with NBA officials without
the NBRA being notified.

“The NBRA is not contesting the officiating error; rather the protocol, or
lack thereof, followed by the league in notifying the association of its
intended punishment and the unfairness of its decision,” McMorris added.