Referee Stafford received two-game suspension

Two game officials were recently sanctioned in the wake of run-ins with Miami coach Pat Riley -- one suspended and the other fined.

Originally Published: February 26, 2003
By Marc Stein |

The NBA does not announce disciplinary action taken against its referees, but has learned that two game officials were recently sanctioned in the wake of run-ins with Miami coach Pat Riley -- one suspended and the other fined.

Derrick Stafford
Reportedly, referee Derrick Stafford told Pat Riley to go 'on TV crying.'
Derrick Stafford, who clashed with Riley during a Heat-Blazers game just before the All-Star break, was required to serve a two-game suspension this month, according to league sources. Newspaper reports quoted Stafford telling Riley during the game: "It's not about you. Go on TV crying."

Riley was fined $20,000 for "publicly criticizing game officials to assembled media" after that game.

Steve Javie, meanwhile, has been fined $1,000 by the league office for his part in an exchange with Riley early in the 2001-02 season. The incident didn't get national attention until December of this season, when Riley was fined $50,000 for saying leaguewide "dislike for me over the years" among referees -- specifically Javie -- was influencing the way Heat games are officiated.

"It all started, I think, last year," Riley said Dec. 13 after a loss to the Knicks. "I think I sort of sensed something changing last year when Steve Javie, in Cleveland -- and to his delight, obviously, absolute delight, as we were getting beat, and going through a real tough time -- came to my face, after we were having a discussion, and said, 'It's giving us absolute delight to watch you and your team die.' "

NBA vice president of operations Stu Jackson declined comment through a spokesman Wednesday, citing the league's policy of not discussing internal communications with its referees.

Jackson did acknowledge during All-Star Weekend in Atlanta that the league was "investigating both sides" of the Stafford-Riley incident from Feb. 5. Commissioner David Stern, however, said in Atlanta that he remains against publicly disclosing disciplinary measures taken against game officials.

"I just think in light of the competitive challenges when players and coaches get a hold of certain information, it might further erode the ability of these gentlemen to do the job that they do so well," Stern said at his annual state-of-the-league address. "So I'm resisting that."

A week before his clash with Riley, Stafford drew the ire of Sacramento coach Rick Adelman and Kings center Vlade Divac in Sacramento's home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 31. Divac was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as saying that Stafford told Doug Christie, "Tell Vlade this is not the last game of yours I'll be working this season."

Javie was back in the news again last week for ejecting Memphis coach Hubie Brown and Adelman in separate games in a span of three days.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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Senior Writer,
• Senior NBA writer for
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics