ASSOCIATED PRESS — The NBA Replay Center has a new leader.
Kane Fitzgerald, who spent 13 years working as an NBA referee, has been named the league’s new vice president of refereeing operations and director of the replay center. He replaces another former umpire in Jason Phillips, who left the post after three years.
Fitzgerald, 41, officially started his new job on Sunday at the opening of the league’s annual pre-season referee meetings.
“I’ve always been excited about new challenges, and it’s a rare opportunity to be able to leave the floor as a referee and find a position in the NBA of this magnitude,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m excited for the challenge, something new, something different, to see if I can grow into the role and be as successful as I was on the pitch.”
Fitzgerald rose through the ranks steadily throughout his career on the pitch. By 18, he was officiating high school games in his native New Jersey, introduced to the job by his father – who was an umpire for 49 years and still works on the games.
From there, Fitzgerald had stints at the college level — the Big South, Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley conferences — before two years in the WNBA and four more in the G League. He was chosen to play in four NBA Finals games, the last of last season in the Boston-Golden State series.
At that time, he had no idea that this opportunity would present itself.
“Kane’s extensive experience and distinguished track record as an NBA official make him well-positioned to oversee our efforts to maintain the highest standards for the NBA Replay Center,” said NBA President Byron Spruell. for league operations. “We are fortunate that he brings his skills and expertise to such an important leadership position.”
In his new role, Fitzgerald will oversee the day-to-day operations of the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. He will also be involved in referee operations, including creating training videos and interpreting the rules of the game for officials, teams, broadcasters and the media.
The move allows Fitzgerald to have a more normal schedule with his family. The job will still be demanding and travel will still be involved — his home is in Florida now, the job is in New Jersey — but not officiating 50 or more games a year will bring about a better work-life balance.
“I’ve probably had Christmas on Christmas Day maybe five of the last 17 years,” Fitzgerald said. “And last year was the first year I was home for Thanksgiving, so there will be some very positive changes for the family with this schedule.