Following their playing days, there are multiple routes NBA players can take. Some try their luck at coaching, while others eye front-office positions. There have even been some cases where guys go on to become referees.
Here are the top three players to become referees following their retirement.
3 NBA players who went on to become referees:
1, Leon Wood
Leon Wood’s NBA journey began in 1984 when he was drafted 10th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Following a brief stint with Philly, Wood played for the Washington Bullets, New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and LA Clippers.
After just six years in the league, Wood found himself playing professionally overseas in Europe. He retired from the league in 1994 and became an official just two years later. 26 years later, the former top-ten pick is still calling games.
2, Haywoode Workman
Another NBA ref who began his journey as a player is Haywoode Workman. He was a second-round pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 1989 and played in the league for eight years.
Like Wood, Workman ended up overseas a few years into his career. While he managed to return to the states for a few seasons, Workman retired as a player in 2001. After getting an opportunity to be a preseason ref in 2006, the league hired him as a full-time official in 2008.
3, Bernie Fryer
One of the first NBA players to transition to officiating after retiring was Bernie Fryer. The Phoenix Suns drafted him in the seventh round in 1972, and his career only lasted 120 games.
Fryer retired as a player in 1975, and his career as a ref began in 1978. Despite how things went during his playing days, Fryer went on to become an extremely successful official. He called over 1,800 games and finished his run by officiating the 2007 Finals. After retiring as a ref, he took a job with the league office a year later.
Honorable mention: Smush Parker
While he isn’t an NBA ref just yet, the latest player to try and join this list is Smush Parker. He spent five years in the league, most notably for the LA Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant in the late 2000s.
Parker played 274 games in his career, averaging 9.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists.