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NBA's 'worst' referee, and for now its most controversial, is a Maryland graduate

The NBA's "worst" referee, and for now its most controversial, is a Silver Spring native and Maryland alum.

In January, the Los Angeles Times conducted an anonymous survey of "nearly three dozen" NBA players, head coaches and assistant coaches, who were asked to name the league's three worst referees.

The runaway winner, with 10 more votes than the runner-up: Scott Foster. 

"You can't talk to him. He's never wrong," one player said of Foster. "I like refs where they say, 'You know what, I made a mistake. I saw it at halftime. You were right.' But Scott Foster thinks he never makes a mistake. The players see the stats of how he is on the road. He always helps the road team out. He loves to stick it to teams."

Monday night, Foster blew a call during Game 4 of the Golden State Warriors-Portland Trail Blazers Western Conference semifinals. Warriors guard Shaun Livingston, the aggrieved party, ran back on defense and showed off his pottymouth.

 The Internet took the side of the guy who had been clobbered on the side of the head and, oh, yeah, never had been ejected in his 11-year career.

This is relevant because with backup point guard Steve Blake and the Detroit Pistons eliminated from the playoffs, and Phoenix Suns center Alex Len making his case for a cameo in the coming "Baywatch" movie, Foster is by far the most distinguished Terp still in the game.

The Silver Spring native attended Magruder High in Montgomery County and graduated from Maryland in 1993. He worked state high school games, in the Southern and Big South conferences and in the Continental Basketball Association before moving up to the NBA.

His new worst-in-the-league moniker is actually better than his last, which was "associate of Tim Donaghy's." Foster was scrutinized for the 304 phone calls he exchanged with the disgraced former official between December 2006 and April 2007, when Donaghy admitted to having shared inside information with two known gamblers.

Foster was cleared in separate investigations by the FBI and an NBA-hired independent investigator, which has perhaps emboldened his officiating. 

"He's going to manage everything," Donaghy told The Oregonian's John Canzano before Monday night's game. "If you see a team that has four team fouls and a team that doesn't have any, you're going to see ... Scott Foster go up the floor and grab a hand-check or impede, a real cheap foul just to get that personal foul up on the board. ... He'll go into the locker room at halftime and look at a stat sheet and look at the free throws. If the free throws are off a little bit he's going to come out in the third quarter and make sure that team that doesn't have as many free throws gets a couple of cheap ones to try and even things out and see that everyone gets a fair shake."

Good thing he never refereed in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Gary Williams would have loved him.

(H/T The Washington Post)

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