SECAUCUS, NJ (AP) – LeBron James in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. Derek Fisher on the Madison Square Garden sideline. A fifth championship banner in the San Antonio Spurs rafters.
When the curtain rises on the NBA's season, another important debut will occur in Secaucus, New Jersey: The NBA's new instant replay center will be open for business.
Starting with Tuesday night's three games, referees in arenas across the league will work directly with the replay center rather than with a television producer in a truck backstage to review disputed calls.
And the early returns indicate the new system will be faster.
"We think it's not only going to help our referees make more correct decisions, but also we're certainly hopeful it will expedite the amount of time that referees spend at the table," NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said.
The center features 94 television monitors and 20 replay stations. The system was tested during the preseason, and Thorn said times averaged about 49 seconds per replay, which was down from about 90 seconds during the regular season last year.
The biggest complaint about the influx of replay over the last decade has been the effect it is having on the length of games. The league even tested out a 44-minute game during the preseason as it looks to address the issue.
NBA executives in the new replay center will be able to immediately identify camera angles that can help officials make the correct calls, which should speed the process. Technicians seated at the stations in the replay center will have nine different camera angles in addition to access to the in-house camera feed and will also be able to show the referee multiple camera angles at the same time, which couldn't be done in the past.
Referees on site will still have the final say in the decision. But the NBA hopes that working directly with league officials rather than a TV producer will help make communication easier as well.
"They still have the final decision, but we're going to give them what they need to get their job done. So it should be a little bit easier for them that way."
Thorn fully expects some bumps in the road as they implement the new system and get referees used to working with officials in the center. But he fully believes that the new setup will help referees get more calls correctly in a speedier manner.
"I'm sure there will be some glitches and some things we have to deal with as we get started here," he said.
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