Alum Spotlight: Pat Fraher

Calling the shots

A Minnesota Evans Alum spends his days on the court, clashing (sometimes literally) with some of the NBA's biggest stars

Pat Fraher, second from right, with
the rest of the officiating crew for
Game 3 of the Western Conference

A quick chat with professional basketball referee Pat Fraher (Minn. ’96), who has worked more than 280 games in the NBA.

How did you become a referee?

I began when I was 15 years old with my dad. At 17, I refereed my first high school varsity game. Two years later, I attended a summer camp in Las Vegas run by three NBA referees. After having a crazy game with nine technical fouls and five ejections, I was on their radar. I worked in the CBA and WNBA before coming to the NBA in 2001. This year, I made it to the Western Conference semi-finals.

How do you deal with people getting in your face?

Conflict’s part of the job. There are certain lines they can’t cross, and when they do, it’s simple – they get a technical or an ejection. The tricky part is when they don’t cross the line; they bring it to the edge and try to break your concentration. Then you have to warn them. I have the same problem with my 4-year old. The more excited they get, the more composed we have to be.

How do you break up fights between players?

You try to get in as quick as you can, but once they start throwing punches, get out of the way. You’re not going to stop a 260-pound, 6’ 10" guy once they start going at it.

What’s the most challenging part of the job?

With the level of scrutiny we’re under, the expectations are impossible. The expectation is perfection. You’re human, so you’re in a no-win situation. You’ll always fall short. It’s no fun when you wake up and see yourself on SportsCenter. It’s not like they’re going to show a clip of you making a good call.

How do people react when you tell them your job?

They’re curious. It’s a unique job. There are only 60 of us in the world. They ask who the toughest coaches and players are. The veteran coaches tend to be toughest because they have the seniority and experience of how to interact with the referee. Larry Brown could be difficult, Phil Jackson could be tough, also Jerry Sloan. We’ve got an influx of younger coaches coming in, so I’m looking forward to that.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

The playoffs – the intensity can’t be matched anywhere. My second favorite part is right after the playoffs – the offseason!


-First printed in the Summer 2011 WGA Evans Scholars Magazine