Dick Bavetta: Ins and Outs of Life as a Referee

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“There are so many secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Richard “Dick” Bavetta, also known as Dick Bavetta, is a personality whose hard work and dedication have made him reach another level.

Bavetta is a retired NBA referee who left an amazing record for consistency in his field. He never missed an assignment in the 39 years of dedicating himself to basketball.

Dick has set many ironman records, as that made him the top 10 highest-paying NBA coaches.

Bavetta even became the first-ever NBA official to call a game in Olympics. He loves his job as a full-time NBA referee and had 27 NBA finals and more than 250 minor playoffs altogether. 

Dick Bavetta NBA
Dick Bavetta is a retired professional NBA basketball referee

Dick’s professionalism, hard work, and patience made him what he is today. He is a righteous legend of American Basketball that has a huge number of worshippers.

In this article, we will look into Bavetta’s life, but for now, here is a quick fact about the coach.

Dick Bavetta | Quick Facts

Full Name Richard William Bavetta
Date Of Birth December 10, 1939
Place Of Birth Brooklyn, New York
Nick/Pet Name Dick
Religion Unknown
Nationality American
Ethnic Belonging Caucasian
Father’s Name Unknown
Mother’s Name Unknown
Number Of Siblings 1
Education St. Francis College
Zodiac Sign Sagittarius
Age 84 years old
Height 6 feet (183 cm)
Weight 156 lb (71 kg)
Eye color Brown
Hair color Brown
Shoe Size Unavailable
Body Measurement Unknown
Figure Lean
Marital Status Married
Girlfriend No
Children Christine & Michele
Occupation NBA referee
Net worth $150,000 – $350,000 (Approx.)
Salary $60,000 
Active Since 1975
Pets Unknown
Current works Retired
Social Handle Instagram
NBA Merch  Basketball, Jerseys for men, Shorts
Last Update  March, 2024

Dick Bavetta | Age, Height, and Measurements 

The retired professional, Bavetta, is 84 years young as of 2024. He is an American citizen born on December 10, 1939. Also, he is caucasian. 

Dick is as tall as 6 feet (183 cm) and weighs about 156 lb (71 kg). He seems to be slightly underweight, but the difference isn’t too much. 

As NBA demands tall and bulky officials due to their own personal reason, Dick had a hard time getting inside the organization.

But after he actually did, Bavetta never once made a blunder or forgot about his duties as a referee. 

Due to this reason, people inside and outside NBA respected and spoke highly of him.

As a December born, Bavetta’s Zodiac sign is Saggitarius. This fun sign is known for its traits like being optimistic, freedom lover, funny, fair-minded, truthful, and intellectual.

Dick Bavetta | Childhood, Family, and Early Life

Richard was born to his parents in Brooklyn, New York City. Unfortunately, the name of his parents is unknown. 

But as per sources, his father is a police officer while Dick’s mother is a homemaker. 

Aside from his parents, Dick was blessed with a sibling named Joe.

In Bavetta’s life, his sibling played a major role in his career choice. However, it was Joe who was convinced that sports would be a wonderful career for him. 

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Moving on to his education, Bavetta went to Power memorial academy in his hometown. Interestingly his classmates are famous NBA stars as well.

He graduated from St. Francis College in New York, where he even got into the basketball team.

Likewise, Dick did his MBA from the New York Institute of Finance and started working as a Wall Street broker for the Saloman brothers.

His major task was to officiate the playoffs between fellow brokers in the Wall Street League.

But Bavetta left his work and started working in high school games.

Dick, for many years, officiated the games between public and catholic high school leagues, including the eastern professional basketball league.

Eastern football later emerged as Continental Basketball Association.

Dick Bavetta | Struggles to become Chief Referee

Bavetta desperately wanted to become an NBA referee, so he attended various regional referee tryouts. As a matter of fact, he was rejected for eight whole years because of his size.

After years of trying, NBA finally took him inside the organization as Mendy Rudolph was retiring.

Dick’s first game was at the Madison Square between Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

Bavetta described his first ten years in NBA as very tough because he was constantly ranked bottom among other referees in performance. Sadly, it led to many technical fouls and ejections.

Dick Bavetta running
Dick Bavetta running

Without a doubt, Dick was frustrated due to his failing career, so he decided to work harder. But unfortunately, the referee only slept for three hours and abandoned the rest. 

Moreover, he read all the NBA rulebooks and became the first NBA referee to go through hard physical training.

Due to his undying effort in his work, Bavetta emerged as one of the organization’s best referees in the future. 

In the year 1980, Dick was announced as a chief referee and given many rights and powers.

He had the power to approve or overrule the calls and logs made by other referees.

Bavetta proved, “Hard work really beats everything!” with style. 

Dick Bavetta | Most Memorable Game

The New Yorkers most memorable game occurred during the 1980s in a Philadelphia 76ers versus Boston Celtics. The game took interesting events as Bavetta was forced to officiate the game all by himself.

It was after his partner broke his leg in an accident that involved the guard of Celtics.

Some brutal fight scenes also took place in the game as Celtics forward Larry Bird and 76ers guard Julius Erving began to choke each other.

Dick Bavetta's most memorable game
Dick controlling the players

Somehow, Dick ejected them, and he heartily believed that this game was a turning point of his career in the NBA. It also got him worldwide recognition.

After Bavetta’s amazing skill presentation, he received wide praises inside the NBA.

Dick Bavetta | Interesting Career Turns

The hardworking referee daily refereed different basketball playoffs, and NBA ranked him at the top.

The NBA even evaluated his performance and made him one of the highest-paid referees earning over two hundred thousand dollars in 2000.

Bavetta once ruled a three-point basket made by a Utah Jazz player, but the television replay showed otherwise. It was a tremendous mistake as he didn’t let the point count.

Similarly, Dick’s health was threatened when Jalen Rose accidentally punched him in the nose while trying to punch Patrick Ewing during a game.

Even though seriously injured, Bavetta remained in the game and postponed his surgery to the next day. However, he immediately returned the day after to officiate another game between Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets.

During his tenure, the star referee also made a record by officiating most games. Dick always showed up in time and gave 100 percent in every game.

Also, it was found that Bavetta wore 5 pairs of socks to keep his feet in good shape, which is quite bizarre.

Due to his longevity in the league, everyone in the organization started calling him “the Cal Ripken, Jr. of referees.”

Another interesting event that took place in his career was when he and his team ejected ten players from the Brawls on the court.

Likewise, the league ultimately deferred seven players and fined both teams heavily. After 39 long years of serving in the NBA, Bavetta retired in August 2014.

Referee In The Olympics

In 1992, the retired referee became the first NBA official to call a game in the Olympics held in Barcelona. Moreover, the 1992 Olympics was the first time NBA players were allowed to participate in the games. 

As of now, Bavetta is enjoying his retired life and does not seem to be blowing whistles in any more games.

Nevertheless, he must be watching the Tokyo 2020 Olympics from his home and cheering on the US basketball teams. 

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Dick Bavetta | Charitable Work

Richards is energetically involved in benevolent workings. For example, he has established and sponsored the Lady Bavetta Scholarships ever since 1986 in honor of his daughters.

It is bestowed to high school marginal youngsters grounded on their requirements.

Bavetta also volunteered at the Woods Ranch, working with children and teens with exceptional medical needs.

He also contributes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and aids as the Upstate New York Regional Director for the Foundation.

For the 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend, Dick raced Turner Network Television (TNT) studio analyst and previous NBA star Charles Barkley for a $75,000 charitable contribution. 

NBA contributed $50,000, and TNT helped with $25,000 to the Las Vegas Boys & Girls Clubs of America but could not win by a thin margin.

Even though he lost, Dick’s enthusiasm and kind gesture won the hearts of many. 

Dick Bavetta | Net Worth

Bavetta is one of the most well-paid referees in the NBA. We all can say that it was all because of his hard work and determination. 

This retired NBA referee’s current net worth is $150,000 – $350,000, and his salary is about 60,000 USD.

None of his income comes outside of officiating games in the organization. Dick is unquestionably one of the finest NBA staff.

Dick Bavetta | Personal Life

The 84 years old, Bavetta is married to Paulette and leads a happy married life. Together the lovely couple has two angel-like daughters, namely Christine and Michele.

It was Bavetta’s love for his daughters that led him to establish charity works for marginalized youngsters. 

However, any other additional information cannot be found about his family. 

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Dick Bavetta | Social Media Presence

It is quite unfortunate and sad that Bavetta is not active on any social media platform. It occurs to us that he likes to live a very private life.

He is a celebrity referee and sportsperson who likes living lowkey, unlike a flashy lifestyle.

Even though he is completely off the platform, he gets mentioned now and then. 

Instagram – #DickBavetta

Dick Bavetta | FAQs

Did Bavetta and Earl Storm frequently fight?

Yes, Earl Storm has been listed as a notorious referee who had beef with Bavetta all the time. One time Storm even punched in the eye of the referee.

Not only that, but Storm tried choking Bavetta before an NBA game but apologized two weeks later.

Was Bavetta ever accused of game-fixing?

Dick was one of three referees for Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Kings and the Lakers

Ex referee Tim Donaghy accused that at least one of the referees working had personal motives for wanting the Lakers to defeat the Kings.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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