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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2016 > January-April > NBA Referee, Little League® Baseball World Series Coach Darell Garretson Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

NBA Referee, Little League® Baseball World Series Coach Darell Garretson Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

NBA Referee, Little League® Baseball World Series Coach Darell Garretson Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame


Before become becoming a referee in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Darell Garretson was a coach with the 1968 West Region Champions from Bolsa Little League in Santa Ana, Calif. Mr. Garretson, picture back right, joined his son Richard on the team, which finished third in that year’s World Series.


Little League® International honors and congratulates National Basketball Association (NBA) luminary and Little League coach Darell Garretson, and his family, on his posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Mr. Garretson was an assistant coach with the Bolsa Little League team from Santa Ana, Calif., which won the West Region championship and finished third in the 1968 Little League Baseball® World Series. Mr. Garretson’s son, Richard, was a member of the team.

One year earlier in 1967, Mr. Garretson began his career as an NBA referee. Nearly 25 years later, his impact on the game of professional basketball was evident as the NBA appointed him as its first, and to-date only, Chief of Officiating Staff.

While continuing to referee NBA games, he also scouted for new officiating talent, and trained new and current referees. Mr. Garretson spent 31 years supervising, evaluating, and training NBA officials. In 1994, he semi-retired from officiating, having worked more than 2,000 games, 269 playoff games, 41 Finals games, and five All-Star games.

When Mr. Garretson decided to fully retire in 1998, he was widely considered the person most responsible for shaping today’s basketball officiating. He was also instrumental in creating and heading the NBA referees first union, the National Association of Basketball Referees, a predecessor to the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA).

Throughout his time with the NBA, Mr. Garretson was continually focused on mentoring and training, and was instrumental in implementing the three-referee crew commonly used today. He is also credited with devising the concept of “refereeing the defense,” by which an official focuses his or her attention on the defensive player, rather than watch the ball.

Mr. Garretson was 76 when he passed away in April 2008. A native of Illinois, he attended Illinois State University and served in the U.S. Navy for six years (1954-1960). In 1982, Illinois State inducted him into its Hall of Fame.