NBA veteran referee Joe Borgia comes from a family of referees—his father was one of the original refs in 1946. With a long and successful history in the NBA, Borgia has become a booster for the NBA's new state-of the-art instant replay center.
"My dad would be turning over in his grave if he could see the NBA replay center and what we do here, but you have to keep up with the times. If you do not improve, you become old," said Borgia, who is now the league's vice president of Referee Operations and Replay Center.
Located in Secaucus, New Jersey, the $15 million facility was built to help on-court refs make calls when a play is in question. With 20 replay stations on game nights, one person is assigned to every live game to monitor, review and analyze every call.
When a call is in question, an on-court ref signals the need for a replay. The replay center comes alive, pulling up the play. By the time the on-court referees make it to the scoring table, the play is cued up to view through various camera angles and speeds.
"It gives us the ability to put plays beside each other, zoom in, do slow motion. It gives the referees an added tool to get more calls correct," said Rod Thorn, president of operations for the NBA.
Since the season began in November, 435 plays have been reviewed by the replay center, and 50 have been overturned. The NBA's replay center team isn't just focused on getting the call right, but also on doing so quickly.
"Our sport is a flow sport, so it was very important that we get the camera feeds back for review immediately," said Steve Hellmuth, executive vice president for Operations & Technology for NBA Entertainment, and the architect of the high-speed arena network.