CLE coach Mike Brown (shown here), for example, "adopted the strategy, taken from his mentor, Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs’ coach, of addressing referees by their first names at the outset of the game. Brown tells his players to do the same. Again, it develops familiarity."
Says Coach Brown: "I try to set the tone early about having a communication during the game, because there may be some things that you’re right on and there may be some things that I’m right on, but at least we can talk about it to see if we can get it right for the next call."
According to DEN coach George Karl, "some calls are argued... so coaches do not have to alter their schemes in the middle of a game. If he instructs his Nuggets to play aggressively but the referees are calling touch fouls, Karl starts arguing calls earlier."
Says Coach Karl: "You go into a game thinking you are going to play through your big man and he gets in foul trouble, you’ve got to change."
One 30-year veteran official dismisses the notion that refs have any hidden agenda.
"You’re just out there trying to get the plays right. The coach is trying to win, and sees things from a different angle. And the referee is trying to get the play right from a different angle. Oftentimes, the angles don’t connect."
NYK coach Mike D'Antoni concurs, adding: “They’re doing the best they can do, and I’m doing the best I can do.”
Rudy Tomjanovich, who coached the Rockets to two NBA titles in the '90s, offers advice for coaches, recommending that they "never get personal" with refs.
"It’s always about the basketball play — the way I see it and the way they see it. I never say, ‘Well, you aren’t doing this right.’ It can get as heated as you want about a basketball play, because you aren’t talking about the guy."