Ref relatives: Gobles 1st siblings on NBA officiating staff

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2017 2:13 AM
Ref relatives: Gobles 1st siblings on NBA officiating staff

NEW YORK (AP) — Jacyn Goble grabbed his phone and dialed his big brother, because that's who he has always called first when there's something important to discuss.

John, 2 1/2 years older, is his best friend, the one he's always turned to for advice, and the one who urged him to revisit refereeing even after he started a career with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

This call last November was to deliver big news. Jacyn had just been promoted by the NBA, making the Gobles the first siblings to be on the officiating staff at the same time.

"It was a little surreal because as kids we always spent a lot of time together," John said, adding that he "never thought we'd be co-workers. So it's pretty cool to say that you work with your brother" in the NBA.

Both say it would be nice to work on the same NBA officiating crew, but it isn't a goal. There is no rule preventing it, and Mike Bantom, the league's executive vice president of referee operations, said he expects it will happen at some point in their careers.

John Goble, 38, is in his 10th season as an NBA official, calling more than 600 games in the regular season and 37 more in the playoffs. He's officiated games into the conference final round and later this week will find out about assignments for this postseason.

As a rookie, Jacyn's season will end with the regular-season finale on Wednesday, so his playoff chance will have to wait. He should be able to handle waiting a little longer.

Jacyn, 36, went to D-League tryouts in 2012, and worked there and at the college level before being called up to the 64-person NBA staff early this season. And getting help from one of the league's respected officials should help him quickly improve.

"That's what's good about our league, having the younger officials with the older officials. Now you got a brother going home at the dinner table talking about what happened last night," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

"I told John, I said I know who got the better looks in the family. So I was teasing him about that, but I think John's helping his younger brother. It's not like it is nepotism, the young man's a good official. He knows the game, has a good presence, has a good feel, just needs the experience."

The Gobles have only worked together in youth and adult recreation league games in their native South Florida, when officiating was only viewed as a short-term way to make some extra cash. They played sports growing up in Miami, but never considered refereeing them until a mutual friend recommended it.

John stuck with it after graduating from Florida International, working his way up through the collegiate and NBA Development League ranks, but Jacyn seemed headed in another direction.

He stopped officiating when he was accepted to the police academy and eventually worked his way into the Miami-Dade Police Department's Robbery Intervention Detail section, where he was part of a six-person unit which focuses on apprehending violent felons as well as homicide and sexual assault suspects.

So he's not exactly fazed by a coach or 15,000 fans screaming at him.

"As officials we're like the police on the court. We're there to enforce the rules, as police are on the street," Jacyn said. "There's certain situations like on the street that can evolve very quickly and you need to respond calm and in a professional manner at all times, and as a police officer that's what was expected and that's the way we're trained."

John urged Jacyn to get back into officiating after a few years of what became a 13-year career as a policeman.

"He's had to deal with a lot of different situations, managing situations, which definitely applies with officiating," John said. "And selfishly speaking, unless you're working some park gym, I hope that nobody's going to be firing a bullet at him like they would being a police officer, so I thought it'd be a little bit safer environment all things considered."

For now, the Gobles try to catch up whenever they're both in Miami, where their families still live. There, Jacyn can pick his brother's brain about refereeing just as he did whenever they called games together — even if he had a different view of a play.

"I always looked up to my brother John so I was always learning from him. I still do now," Jacyn said. "He's always been ahead of the game and he's always done well in refereeing, so every time I worked with him it wasn't a thing of us having a different opinion on a call, it was always more me just asking him why and me learning from him."