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Former referee heads back to the court

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  • | 11:00 p.m. November 18, 2014
Bob Delaney has been a part of the National Basketball Association for more than 30 years. courtesy photos
Bob Delaney has been a part of the National Basketball Association for more than 30 years. courtesy photos
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EAST COUNTY — When Bob Delaney attends a New York Knicks game in Madison Square Garden, his attention isn’t on the basketball players.

Instead, he focuses on the third team on the court — the shot callers of the game.

“There are three teams in every sporting event: the two competing and the referee team,” Delaney said. “I attend NBA games to ensure the third team on the basketball floor is the best they can be.”

Although the Lakewood Ranch resident left NBA refereeing in 2011 to retire in East County, the desire to be near the court never left him. Delaney continued to consult with the NBA since his retirement and, after talks with the league throughout the summer, he returned full time to the sport he has loved since he started as a basketball officiator in 1987.

He and his wife, Billie, moved to New York City in October so Delaney could take on a higher-level position with the NBA. Delaney is now the vice president of referee operations for the league.

In his new role, the 62-year-old won’t be jogging up and down waxed hardwood floors blowing his whistle. His position is more behind the scenes.

He now oversees, evaluates and mentors the NBA’s referees, both on and off the court. Delaney will train the 62-person referee staff using the performance enhancement program (PEP) he developed over the last few years.

He crafted PEP while consulting for teams such as the University of Alabama and Florida State University football teams, along with presentations he held for active military members, law enforcement, firefighters and other public service men and women.

Delaney’s training hones in on mental conditioning, leadership and teamwork workshops, as well as mental and physical fitness lessons. He is bringing a holistic approach to the sport that he says stresses communication and teamwork.

Delaney does educate the officiators on the basics of the referee position, but he also gives the individuals tips on dealing with stress and emotional situations on the court.

He teaches the referees how to read players body language and how to diffuse high-intensity situations, such as a player becoming confrontational with the referee over a call.

Delaney dealt with such situations, such as a chest-to-chest argument with former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan in the 1990s. Delaney employs the referees with tips to help better communicate with players as well as other officiators on the court throughout the game.

He also now attends NBA games to assess the referees’ performance, for feedback he provides them later.

For NBA President of Basketball Operations Rob Thorn, Delaney’s years of experience made him a sure fit for the position.

“Bob Delaney has been part of the NBA family for more than 30 years and is going to be an integral part of our Referee Operations staff as we head into the 2014-15 NBA season,” said Thorn, in an email.

“Twenty-five years of experience on the court as a referee will prove to be invaluable in his new position that focuses on referee development.”

Delaney is continuing to understand what his new position means and enjoys attending various basketball games per week, while also getting acquainted with his second home — an apartment in the heart of New York City.

The Delaney’s apartment is eight blocks from the NBA office and is in a prime location for good eating and quality entertainment, Delaney agreed.

But, what about the Ranch?

The Delaneys still own their Lakewood Ranch condominium in Lake Vista and plan to keep the property as their second, off-season home.

“I’m not sure we ever truly left,” Delaney said, when asked when he and his wife will return to East County. “But, we have two different places we now call home. Both are unique and special.”

Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].




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