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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 3, 2011

Perception ? Reality: Analyzing Specific Allegations of NBA Referee Bias

Ryan Rodenberg

The 2007 gambling scandal involving a National Basketball Association (NBA) referee, coupled with the NBA’s follow-up investigation, put allegations of basketball referee bias in the spotlight. This paper analyzes specific allegations of bias by Miami Heat coach and general manager Pat Riley against NBA referees Steve Javie and Derrick Stafford. In the course of analyzing every referee who officiated a Miami Heat during a nine-year period, neither Javie nor Stafford exhibited systematic bias that had an adverse effect on the Miami Heat. In fact, the Heat performed slightly better than predicted when Javie officiated their games. The results provide real-world empirical evidence consistent with “confirmation bias,” a theory grounded in the finding that individuals with a vested interest in certain self-justifying outcomes may reach generalized conclusions unsupported by actual evidence.

Published Online: 2011-5-3

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston