NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Nolan Fine, a Virginia Beach native, spent nearly two decades as a referee in the NBA, and was even the youngest ever to officiate a national championship. Fine reffed the 1987 National Championship between Syracuse and Indiana and later enjoyed a 16-year NBA officiating career.
Fine did not get a first-hand view of the Ted Constant Center on Saturday night, when officials made the call to eject a fan, who was escorted out by Old Dominion University police seconds later.
“That’s such a rarity, whether it be in collegiate sports or professional sports,” said Fine.
The incident was minor, but it did stir up an already frustrated crowd who watched referees blow their whistle 52 times in a 63-49 UTEP win over ODU. Fine said he never ejected a fan over his entire officiating career, but has seen it happen, even to the rich and famous.
“A friend of mine who refereed in the NBA when I did actually was working a Miami (Heat) game and ejected a fan by the name of Jimmy Buffett,” remembered Fine, “(The official) didn’t know it was Jimmy Buffett at the time, but he ejected Jimmy Buffett, who was sitting behind the backboard.”
Fine says he’s fine with officials giving a fan a farewell, as long as the situation warrants it. “Just think if you take your family to a game, and you have a youngster, and you’re yelling and screaming vulgarity…you’ve gone over the top,” says Fine.