Monty McCutchen visits Pacers for meeting on the relationship between team and officials

The Pacers had their Respect For The Game meeting with Monty McCutchen Friday before hosting the Atlanta Hawks to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. McCutchen was a longtime NBA official who transitioned into a new role with the league as the vice president and head of referee development and training one year ago.

McCutchen — and sometimes officials for that night’s game — is traveling around to NBA cities to visit with every NBA team. Players, coaches, and even executives are included.

He visited with the Utah Jazz in Indy earlier this week. This stems from what has been seen as a negative relationship on the court between officials, and the coaches and players.

The Pacers coaching staff sat in on the meeting with the rest of the Pacers’ roster.

“It was good,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “They were listening to us and wanted to get our feedback on the officiating and the relationships and how they can do things better. We heard some of the things that we could do better. I thought it was a good meeting and it was an opportunity for the players, coaches, and officials to express what’s going on.”

Appearing on The Lowe Post podcast recently with Zach Lowe, McCutchen explained that he believes it’s important for players and coaches to address officials by their name — rather than ‘Hey ref!’ or ‘Sir’, and vice versa. A select group of players and officials held a meeting at All-Star Weekend a month ago in Los Angeles.

“Listening is a huge part of any effective communication,” McCutchen said on the podcast. “I think that, metaphorically, us going on these trips is good, as well as literally it’s good to listen to the frustrations that we’re hearing or the perspectives that we’re hearing. And then it’s also good to share the perspective of a referee and what the role of a referee is.”

Through 66 games, Lance Stephenson has received the most technicals on the Pacers with seven. Coach McMillan has earned five. In comparison, Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer and Los Angeles Lakers’ Luke Walton lead all head coaches with nine technical fouls.

“We got a lot of new refs and they’re getting to know us like we’re getting to know them,” Stephenson said. “A lot of the older refs retired so it was definitely good to hear what they had to say. The most important thing is getting to know them, saying hello to them. Sometimes you don’t pay the refs no mind and I feel like the refs play a major part in the game.”

Earlier in the week, Stephenson earned a flagrant foul and a technical foul — and vowed “no more techs from me.

“Just have to play more smart, watch what I’m saying to the refs, talk to them a little bit more respectfully.”

These type of meetings can be helpful to make the work place and work environment better for both sides. It’s important for there to be communication, respect, and empathy.

[Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

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