NBA Referees Salary

Referees play a vital role in sporting events and are often not given as much importance and appreciation as they deserve. Even when it comes to financial matters, they are underpaid compared to what the job demands. That’s why today we will discuss NBA referees’ salary and how much refs make per game.

Have you ever imagined an NBA match without the presence of a referee? Basketball and any sport played between two teams without a referee would be a total disaster, and there will be no end to unfair practices. That’s why in my opinion, referees should be entitled to earn a decent amount of money per game to pay off for all the hard work they do.

Stay with us to find out exactly what the job of an NBA referee is and how much the new-entry ones earn, along with the names of the most highly-paid senior referees. 

What is the Job of an NBA Referee?

If you are under the impression that being a referee is a relaxing job, then sorry to say, but you have no idea how physically and mentally stressful the profession is.

Why? Because, unlike the players, the referees have to continuously run across the court throughout the whole game, which is 48 minutes, without any breaks or even getting a chance to sit down.

Along with that, they are to ensure that the match is being played fairly, which is done by keeping a close eye on the ball throughout the game so that fouls are not missed.

Besides the physical demands, a referee has to go through continuous mental pressure of having the possibility of facing backlash from the spectators if, by any chance, decisions differ from the audience’s point of view, which could be, for example, sending a player off after committing a foul.

Entry Level Salary

Now the question is whether or not the salaries of NBA referees are enough to comprehend all the hard work and stress they have to endure while on the job.

For those referees who are new, they begin by earning $600 per game, which is equivalent to a yearly income of $250,000.

Whereas those who are professional or season referees usually earn $3500 per game, which adds up to $550,000 annually.

Besides that, if referees are in charge of the Playoffs, then they can receive additional compensation of anywhere between $800 – $5000 for each match.

But then again, there are the experienced and well know referees who receive $29,000 for each match in the semifinals and finals of the NBA.

Basically, being a referee is like any other job. The more skill and expertise are shown, the higher the chances of getting a promotion and an increase in pay.

How Much Money Does an NBA Referee Make Per Year?

Let’s start off by saying that working as a referee for the NBA, which is the most-watched global basketball league, is likely to pay a lot more than being an ordinary referee for maybe the local community matches.

It is also wise to point out that the salaries of NBA referees have risen rather significantly over the past years, making the profession a decent one for people to join if they wish to.

In 1983, referees earned only $18,000 to $80,000 per season. Then in 1994, the amount increased from $72,000 to $177,000 annually. And finally, in 2009, the association decided to implement a starting wage of $91,000 per year.

NBA referees reach the senior level post after working for three to five years, increasing their salary to $3500 per game or, in other words, $500,000 a year. The referees who are seniors are also offered to be officials in the Playoffs, which increases their base salary from $200 to $4400 per match. 

The money referees earn excludes all the other benefits they receive, including first-class traveling facilities to games, free game tickets, and merchandise that players sign, such as sneakers, jerseys, etc. Not to mention referees are also offered retirement plans and given a decent amount of pensions.

NBA Referees That Are Paid the Highest: ($550,000)

Here are the names of the referees who are the most highly paid and are known to be celebrities for being with the NBA for many seasons and for their fair decisions during matches.

Name of Referee Current Season Number as a Referee
Eric Lewis 17
Pat Fraher 20
Marc Davis 23
Rodney Mott 23
James Capers 26
Sean Corbin 26
Tony Brothers 29
Scott Foster 29
Tom Washington 30
Ken Mauer 35

How Much Do WNBA Referees Earn on Average?

Let’s be honest and say that the Women’s National Basketball Association is hardly known, as it is less important compared with the NBA, and the season is much shorter too.

Now when it comes to earning rates per game for WNBA referees, there are many controversies regarding the actual amount.

According to the association, new entry-level WNBA referees earn $425 per game, which adds up to $160,000 per year. But then again, a number of sources have let out information mentioning that WNBA referees manage to bag up $180,000 a year.

Nonetheless, it’s evident that the amount WNBA referees earn is far lower than what NBA referees manage to take home.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that depending on experience and job title, the NBA referees salary differs. From starting at $600 per game for new-level entry referees, the amount can go up to $10,000 per game in the Playoff rounds for those who reach to the senior level.

Golam Muktadir is a passionate sports fan and a dedicated movie buff. He has been writing about both topics for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his readers. Muktadir has a degree in journalism and has written for several well-known publications, including Surprise Sports.