Former NBA referee Hugh Evans, who was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame this year, has died. He was 81.
The sad news was shared by Evans’s wife with ESPN.
NBA ref Hugh Evans dies
Between 1973 and 2001, Evans officiated almost 2,000 regular season games, 170 playoff games, 35 NBA Finals contests, and four NBA All-Star Games.
In the 1995-96 season, the NBA named him the second-best official in the league.
He became one of just six NBA refs in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when he was named to the exclusive group in April. He will be inducted later this year.
Overwhelmed at the honor, Evans said he was “chosen to be special by God.”
“I still haven’t put into perspective what it means. I am still processing it. Every time I hear it, you get chills, I get tears, I get happy, and I just know that I am special. I was chosen to be special by God,” he said.
After retiring in 2001, Evans worked as an NBA assistant supervisor of officials for two years.
Evans told ESPN last year that he had to overcome racial prejudice throughout his career before his skill was recognized.
“Being accepted by the coaches, players, fans and general managers was difficult,” Evans said. “They didn’t think we [Black referees] could do the job. I was the first Black to work past the first round of the playoffs.”
“I went on to do the Finals. After a while they said, ‘This guy is good. We will give him space,” he said.
The Hall of Fame “mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Hugh Evans,” the organization’s CEO and president John L. Doleva said, calling Evans a “trailblazer.” RIP.