For the Record
Violet Palmer has faced sexist criticism in the past.
Matt A. Brown/Icon SMI

The best color commentators provide insight, opinion and analysis that adds depth to the broadcast. There is nothing in the job description that says commentators are supposed to make disparaging comments that make them sound sexist.

Richie Adubato, a former NBA head coach who works as a color commentator for the Orlando Magic on WDBO, treaded that line Friday night during a game between the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers when he vehemently protested a call by referee Violet Palmer. He foolishly suggested she isn't qualified to be an NBA ref, saying Palmer should go back to the WNBA because that's where she belongs. In an attempt to justify his rant, Adubato said Palmer can call that a foul in the WNBA but not the NBA.

Look, I understand that Palmer has a legion of critics and isn't the most popular ref. And even though I didn't see the foul, I don't have a problem with Adubato disagreeing with the call. It's the way that he did, though. He personally attacked her and questioned the credentials of somebody in their 12th season as an NBA ref. If he didn't agree with a call by Dick Bavetta, I seriously doubt Adubato would say the veteran ref needs glasses and should probably be officiating high school games.

Adubato's comment wasn't as degrading as the one by Celtics commentator Cedric Maxwell two years ago in which he said Palmer should go back in the kitchen and cook him breakfast. While his defenders thought it was a joke, Maxwell later apologized.

I'm not accusing Adubato of being a misogynist. He used to coach in the WNBA and might have some history with her. Regardless, he should have demonstrated a little more sensitivity. It's one thing to speak your mind. It's another to spew garbage.

December 12, 2012  01:20 PM ET

I disagree. Adubato coached in both the NBA and WNBA for many years. He is a great person to judge the differences between the skills of officials (one would assume the NBA refs are generally more experienced/skilled, given the higher profile and pay in the NBA). Moreover, he is probably one of the most-qualified people to discuss the different styles of play and types of fouls called. As a casual fan, I'm far from an expert, but I believe a big difference exists. NBA players seem to get more leeway with "traveling" as they move, shoot, and dunk. Similarly, the NBA game seems a lot more physical, particularly inside. I think there are many fouls that would be called in college or WNBA games but aren't called in the NBA.

I didn't view Adubato's comments as sexist or disparaging, more as statements of opinions, facts. In his view, that type of foul should not be called in the NBA ... if it were called regularly, we'd hardly finish games or at least, have a lot fewer players on the court at the end.


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