Michelle D. Johnson named NBA’s head of referee operations


The NBA has named Michelle D. Johnson, a retired Air Force general, the head of the league’s referee operations.

Johnson, the first woman to hold the position of superintendent at the Air Force Academy, replaces Mike Bantom, who is now a senior advisor for league operations. She will head the recruitment, training, development and evaluation of all referees and oversee the NBA Replay Center, among other duties.

“Michelle has decades of experience successfully leading large, highly professionalized organizations and spurring growth through innovation,” said Byron Spruell, the president of league operations. “With a disciplined, analytical approach to problem-solving and a proven track record of building consensus and acting with the utmost integrity, Michelle has the qualities to maximize the effectiveness of our officiating program.”

Johnson is the second-leading scorer all time in Air Force women’s basketball, and in 2007 she became the first woman inducted into the Air Force Sports Hall of Fame.

“My love for basketball and the opportunity to help shape the direction of a key operational group within the NBA made this position incredibly appealing to me,” Johnson said. “In the military, I always embraced the challenge of using all available resources to design and implement an ambitious agenda. I look forward to applying that experience to further elevate the NBA’s officiating program.”

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