The NBA's long serving referee Dick Bavetta broke Cal Ripken Jr's ironman streak as he officiated in his 2,633rd consecutive game on Wednesday night.
Madison Square Garden paid homage to the 74-year-old before the Brooklyn Nets faced the New York Nicks as he received a commemorative plaque and basketball by NBA representative Rod Thorn.
His run, which started in 1974 and saw numerous difficulties along the way including treacherous weather, means that the New York City Basketball Hall of Famer has taken charge of 2,633 matches including 270 playoff games in 29 seasons straight.
Even after nine straight years of rejection from the NBA referee tryouts in his earlier years, the record holder understood the reasons why he was not chosen: "I was rejected every time,” he said. “And rightfully so. I just didn't have the experience for the NBA."
But the Italian would not be deterred. He started taking charge of Rucker League summer ball matches and confesses it inspired him as he saw some players: "doing things with the ball I'd never seen before. Their greatness forced me to rise to the occasion and be better."
In 1975 he finally got his break and has been doing it ever since. His record includes 27 finals games, multiple All-Star games and even earned a place at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
“I learned a work ethic from my dad, whom I never remember missing a day on the job as a cop. I never missed an NBA game but then I can’t remember ever missing any other game I was ever lucky enough to be asked to ref. So tonight, I feel the same privilege I felt the first time I reffed a game." He told nydailynews.com.
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