By Eurohoops Team/ email@example.com
The latest guest on The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas was the most recognizable face of his generations of referees in Euroleague Basketball. Luigi Lamonica hung up his whistle after last season’s Final Four in Belgrade, concluding a famous career that spanned more than two decades at the highest level of the sport.
The Italian referee officiated at 10 EuroLeague Final Fours as well as at the Olympic Games and the European championships. As it turned out, fate had more to do with him embarking on a career as a basketball referee than anything else.
“My father was on the board of this team where I played and they forgot to ask for a referee from the local federation,” Lominica explains of his refereeing beginnings. “So when I arrived at the game, and they said, oh but, we didn’t call the referee. My father came to me, gave me the whistle and said: ‘Go!’”
The next day, the certified referee did come and invited Lamonica to join the next referee course. Lamonica decided to try it out and the rest is history.
Lamonica spent 13 seasons toiling in Italy’s lower divisions and even more before he received his international tag. He fell in love with officiating in that time, even though it was still at a lower level.
“I enjoyed so much officiating that until their kicking my ass is too painful, I will continue because I loved officiating. There are so many things around officiating. It’s not only the 40 minutes of the game,” he said about those years while adding that aside from lifelong friends, his first trips on a train, a ferry boat and an airplane all came to referee games. “I was so happy to have this job, I would have stayed in the second or third division in Italy, no problem at all.”
Lamonica, who now serves as the head of the Italian referees’ committee, engaged Arlauckas in a detailed explanation of how officials prepare for games, what they must never do and what they look for in key situations. The flow of the conversation gave Arlauckas, who was no friend of referees during his playing days, a new respect for the position.
“I’m literally fascinated by this conversation we’re having. It’s a conversation I’ve never had with other referees and I’m so glad that we’re doing it because now, what you’ve done by just explaining that part of the game, you’ve made me realize how important it really is to have some experience in the game of basketball,” Arlauckas tells Lamonica. “I think that if players could sit down and listen to that and understand exactly what you guys are doing it may be a little different that reaction of players or coaches.”
Lamonica goes on to discuss one of the worst calls of his career, when he incorrectly whistled a fifth foul on Shane Larkin of Anadolu Efes Istanbul in overtime of a game against FC Barcelona last season and how that impacted his decision to retire.
“After that call, something inside me was broken and I though probably I started to lose something,” Lamonica confessed. “If you don’t see it, don’t blow the whistle. But I [thought] I saw something. And this was ‘working’ in my brain.”
Among other topics discussed were how technology has changed the way games are officiated, some tense moments in his career and how to handle referees’ mistakes. It’s a highly entertaining and educational episode that fans of basketball will love.