On Thursday, the NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association ratified a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement, one full year before the old one was set to expire. This comes a week after Yahoo Sports reported that a deal had tentatively reached by both sides. The agreement was sealed at a meeting in Chicago, replaces the existing deal, and runs through 2022.

Reaching the deal this early was vital, as the NBA did not want a contentious back and forth, like in 2012 when the NFL used replacement refs during the first three weeks of the regular season. This deal comes as the referees come under increasing scrutiny as Instant Replay becomes more of a regular practice in most close games. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had this to say in a press release issued to announce the agreement:

“The NBA takes great pride in our world-class referee program and we are pleased to extend the league’s partnership with the NBRA for another seven years…Recent efforts including state-of-the-art development and training programs, improved use of instant replay through the NBA Replay Center and unprecedented transparency concerning call accuracy have been instrumental in strengthening the game……..We commend our officials for embracing these technological innovations and thank them for the high level of professionalism with which they perform their jobs.”

The NBA felt it was crucial to get this deal done now, so it can focus solely on the Players Association, as the current labor deal with the players expires in 2017.

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