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How Much Do NBA Refs Get Paid?

Last Updated: February 27, 2023
What does the current NBA referee salary structure look like? Things could change after their most recent collective bargaining agreement — let’s go deeper on where things stand.

On Thursday, the NBA and National Basketball Referees Association agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement that will run through the summer of 2029. Details in the new deal won’t be made public, per the league’s policy.

The league wants peace between the refs and its players, something that’s become an issue, particularly in recent years; Golden State Warriors four-time All-Star Draymond Green went as far as to say that refs are “ruining the game” back in 2018.

But consider this: There are more than 1,700 regular-season games and 160 playoff games. These professionals have an extremely rigorous travel schedule, the tiniest room for error, and deal with constant berating from fans and players alike. That got us thinking: How much do NBA refs make, anyway?

Simply put, it isn’t as easy as it may look — let’s examine where NBA referee salary standards stood before the new agreement.

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NBA Referee Salary Overview

Like most jobs in America, an NBA referee’s salary is based on both seniority and performance.
  • Entry-level referees’ compensation begins at $600 per game or roughly $250,000 per year.
  • Seasoned or professional referees earn $3,500 per game or up to $550,000 annually
  • Additional compensation could also be included, should an official land a playoff game — they can earn between $800 and $5,000 per postseason game.

Every official is different, but use Sean Corbin as an example: He reportedly earns $7,000 per game and $29,000 for each semifinal and NBA Finals game. In the big picture, let’s take a look at the list and how long each has been on the big stage in the Association.

Highest-Paid Officials in the NBA ($550,000):
  • Ken Mauer: Entering his 35th season.
  • Tom Washington: Entering his 30th season.
  • Scott Foster: Entering his 29th season.
  • Tony Brothers: Entering his 29th season.
  • Sean Corbin: Entering his 26th season.
  • James Capers: Entering his 26th season.
  • Rodney Mott: Entering his 23rd season.
  • Marc Davis: Entering his 23rd season.
  • Pat Fraher: Entering his 20th season.
  • Eric Lewis: Entering his 17th season.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.