Longtime NBA referee Hue Hollins, who officiated 19 NBA Finals games and five All-Star games during a 27-year career, has died, according to the National Basketball Referees Association.
A native of Waco, Texas, Hollins is believed to have been 70.
“Hue reached the pinnacle of officiating through an unmatched dedication to perfecting his profession throughout his 27-year career as an NBA referee,” NBRA general counsel Lee Seham said. “His hard work was always on display on the court, but never more evident than during his work in the NBA Finals, of which he worked every year during the 1990s. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."
Hollins was perhaps best known for a controversial call in the 1994 playoffs between the Bulls and Knicks, when he called Scottie Pippen for a shooting foul against Hubert Davis in the closing seconds of Game 5 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Davis made both free throws, and the Knicks won the game 87-86, and ultimately won the series in seven games.
But Hollins' career could not be defined by one call, as he was a fixture in just about every important playoff series of the 1990s. He retired in 2003.
In 2008, Hollins said he had been interviewed by the FBI as part of the 2007 federal criminal probe involving former referee Tim Donaghy, who pleaded guilty to two felony charges for wagering on games he officiated and conveying gambling information through interstate commerce.
At the time, in an interview with Newsday, Hollins said FBI agents had questioned him about Donaghy and another longtime NBA official, Dick Bavetta. Neither Hollins nor Bavetta was ever identified as a target of the probe. Donaghy was the only NBA referee ever charged.
But Hollins and another retired referee, Mike Mathis, earned rebukes from commissioner David Stern for their public criticism of the league's officiating program in the wake of the Donaghy scandal. During a 2007 Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas, Stern referred to Hollins as a "disgruntled former official."
Hollins defended his criticism of the league's officiating program, and the NBA later demoted the target of Hollins' criticism, the former director of officials, Ronnie Nunn. Former NBA ref Hue Hollins dies - CBSSports.com