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Dick Bavetta retiring as NBA referee after 39 years

NBA referee Dick Bavetta is retiring after a 39-year career in which he never missed an assignment. Bavetta officiated a record 2,635 consecutive regular-season games.

74-year-old officiated record 2,635 consecutive regular-season games

Veteran NBA referee Dick Bavetta is retiring after a 39-year career in which he never missed an assignment, officiating a record 2,635 consecutive regular-season games after starting his NBA career on Dec. 2, 1975. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press/File)

NBA referee Dick Bavetta is retiring after a 39-year career in which he never missed an assignment.

Bavetta officiated a record 2,635 consecutive regular-season games after starting his NBA career on Dec. 2, 1975. He also worked 270 playoff games, including 27 in the NBA Finals.

NBA president Rod Thorn says Tuesday in a statement that the league is "grateful for his contributions to our league, and we wish him the best as he enjoys his well-earned retirement."

Bavetta, 74, also worked the 1992 Olympics, the first involving NBA players, and has officiated in leagues in New York and New Jersey. He is most proud of his streak, which last season surpassed even the 2,632 consecutive games played by baseball ironman Cal Ripken Jr.

Bavetta says, "It really has been a great run."

One of the more memorable moments involving Bavetta had nothing to do with his officiating.

As part of the 2007 NBA all-star festivities in Las Vegas, he took on Hall of Famer Charles Barkley in a race, specifically three-and-a-half full-court sprints that finished with Barkley winning while back-pedalling the last 10 or so yards before a crowd of 15,694. Click below to view the race.

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