For the remainder of the NBA season, referees will use Twitter during a selection of two live games a week to answer questions about calls and interact with fans using social media.
According to ESPN, fans can tweet @OfficialNBARefs or use the hashtag #RefWatchParty to ask referees remotely watching the specified games to explain the nature of certain calls. The first two games where this feature will be active are the Warriors against the Lakers on Monday, Jan. 21 and Spurs against the Sixers on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
The National Basketball Referees Association experimented with this concept during Game 3 of last year's NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. After officials engaged in back-and-forth explanations of the controversial calls that either enraged or excited jam-packed arenas, the online feature received positive feedback.
Given the success of the test-run, the NBA has agreed to work in collaboration with the union of referees to institute this practice going forward. Although the referees making the calls will not be answering questions on Twitter, members of the Association will have access to the official NBA playback footage in Secacus, NJ. The film will allow referees to watch footage in slow motion and view plays from different angles.
The feature will continue to be active during the playoffs, which is often when referee calls can make or break a team's season.
"The @OfficialNBARefs #RefWatchParty is returning next week, live from the NBA Replay Center - offering live commentary and real-time officiating insights. Get your questions answered during NBA games on @NBAonTNT and @ESPNNBA using #RefWatchParty," the NBA referees announced on Twitter.