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2022 NBA Summer League - New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers

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Richard Jefferson made his official debut as a pro basketball referee last night, checking in during the second quarter of the NBA Summer League game between the New York Knicks and the Portland Trail Blazers. And based on the retired champ’s own account, the zebras have it much harder officiating on the hardwood than it looks.

“Part of the reason why I agreed to do it is because I had such a tremendous amount of respect for the officials. I understand how important they are to our game,” Jefferson admitted. “I got texts from [referees Monty McCutchen, Bob Delaney, Scott Foster, and Zach Zarba] because I have relationships with these guys because I respect what they do in their craft.”

“So for me to get the opportunity to come out here and just run around a little bit and learn, it’s intense,” he continued. “Anybody that wants to criticize the officials just go referee a high school game first, and then you might look at it a little differently.”

Richard Jefferson played for eight different teams during his 17 seasons in the NBA, and the veteran high flyer won a chip with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving as a member of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers. Since retiring in 2018, he’s gone on to be a fan favorite among basketball analysts due to his biting wit and comebacks for fellow commentators, other players, and game attendees alike.

But at Monday’s game in Las Vegas, Jefferson was on the receiving end of some heckles this time around. He blew some calls and missed others, which the fans let Jefferson know very loudly.

For the most part, though, the crowd did cheer him on as it appeared he started to get the hang of refereeing, too. And to hear RJ tell it, this probably won’t be the last time we see him suit up to ref a game, either.

Twitter lovingly roasted him as well. Check out some of the best reactions below: